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Martial law extension in Ukraine linked to Zelensky's sinking approval rating — DPR head

Denis Pushilin recalled that it was the tenth extension of martial law in Ukraine

MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. The extension of martial law and the military mobilization process in Ukraine are connected to the falling popularity rating of President Vladimir Zelensky and fears that he would not be re-elected to a second term if the election were allowed to be held as scheduled, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Head Denis Pushilin said on air in a Rossiya-24 television broadcast.

"This is already the tenth extension of martial law. This particular extension is characterized by the internal political dynamics in the rest of Ukraine, because Zelensky's [five-year] term is now coming to an end, while [his approval] rating is not what is was at the beginning [of his presidency]," Pushilin said. "His approval rating has collapsed, especially due to a number of recent [mis]steps related to the sacking of Valery Zaluzhny [as commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces], among others. And, of course, there is a great deal of fear [among Kiev officials] that Zelensky simply cannot get re-elected, and so this extension of martial law is [seen as] sort of legitimizing the decision not to hold the upcoming [constitutionally mandated presidential] election."

Earlier, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) passed several bills introduced by Zelensky to extend martial law and general mobilization in the country for another 90 days, until May 13.

The continuous extension of martial law has also precluded holding parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which had been scheduled to take place in late October of last year. Under the Ukrainian constitution, voting cannot take place during martial law. Thus, the latest extension will make it legally impossible to hold the presidential election in the spring as scheduled.