Ukraine's Zelensky says first days of presidency 'a bit' shocking

Kiev (AFP) –


Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that his first few days since assuming office have been "a bit of a shock", pointing to the challenges at hand.

Speaking on the sidelines of an international book fair in the capital Kiev, Zelensky told AFP that "it has been a bit of a shock, there's a lot of work."

He also said that he wanted to move out of the current presidential offices located in a hulking Soviet-era building in central Kiev.

"I do not like the atmosphere, the building," said Ukraine's sixth president, a 41-year-old comedian with no previous political experience.

"So we'll think what to do about it," he added, noting that such a move would present a lot of difficulties.

The father-of-two spoke to AFP as he was buying several books for his children at the high-profile fair.

Zelensky won a landslide victory last month on promises of rebooting the political system and purging the influence of powerful oligarchs.

He was sworn in as president on Monday and the next day called early parliamentary elections for July 21.

In his inaugural address, Ukraine's youngest post-Soviet president vowed to halt a war with Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country that claimed some 13,000 lives, and do everything to stop Ukrainians, as he put it, crying.

But some of Zelensky's first staffing decisions raised eyebrows, sparking fear that the political novice might be beholden to tycoon Igor Kolomoisky despite repeated denials.

The controversial oligarch owns the television channel that broadcast Zelensky's comedy shows. The 56-year-old reportedly returned to Ukraine last week after almost two years of self-imposed exile in Switzerland and Israel.

Zelensky has described himself as "an ordinary guy come to break the system."