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Kiev ready to hold presidential election only if Zaluzhny drops out of race

According to the source, "Zelensky’s numerous opponents" seek to oust the incumbent president through the election

MOSCOW, December 2. /TASS/. The Ukrainian presidential office is willing to hold a presidential election only after the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny, refuses to take part in the race, the Ukrainian daily Strana reported citing a political source.

According to the source, "Zelensky’s numerous opponents" seek to oust the incumbent president through the election.

"Moreover, there is a potential candidate - Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces - who has a good chance to defeat the incumbent president. And he, so to speak, is being considered. Even though the commander-in-chief has never declared his political ambitions anywhere, but the president’s office felt a big threat amid the emerging tensions," the politician said.

According to the source, Zelensky’s office will be willing to hold the presidential election once Zaluzhny does not run.

"Currently, the presidential office seeks assurances that the commander-in-chief will not go to the election. And unless such assurances are given, they will try to fire the commander-in-chief. And not just like that, but by making him as much discredited as possible," the source said.

"In any case, until the Zelensky team believe that they have solved the ‘Zaluzhny problem,’ they will not announce the election," he believes.

Earlier, the Ukrainian news website ‘Informator’ reported citing a survey conducted by the sociological group ‘Rating’ that the level of the Ukrainians’ trust in Zaluzhny is higher than in Zelensky. According to the survey, 82% of the respondents trust Zaluzhny, whereas 72% have confidence in Zelensky.

Ukraine is due to hold the next presidential election in the spring of 2024, but under the legislation, no elections can be held during martial law. Kiev’s Western partners insist that the election take place as scheduled. In particular, US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that Ukraine should hold a presidential election despite the hostilities.

In early November Zaluzhny told the Economist that the conflict around Ukraine had reached a stalemate and the country’s troops would not be able to achieve a breakthrough. The Ukrainian presidential office expressed discontent over the general’s words. The Strana news website reported that Zaluzhny’s statements sparked speculation in the Ukrainian political establishment that he was planning to run for president. According to the website, Zelensky’s victory in the election would be in question in this case.