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Ukraine's new president set to be sworn in next week

MOSCOW (AP) — Ukraine's parliament on Thursday voted to swear the new president into office next week, opening the possibility of a snap parliamentary election. The Supreme Rada voted overwhelmingly to set the date for Volodymyr Zelenskiy's inauguration for May 20. Zelenskiy, a popular comedian with no political experience, has said in the past that he will seek an election because the current parliament has lost people's trust.

Zelenskiy said on Thursday via a spokesman that he was happy about the vote and expressed hope that his upcoming inauguration would help "end a period of uncertainty for Ukraine." He did not state Thursday whether he would disband parliament early. If he wants to, he has seven days from the date of inauguration to do so. Otherwise, the parliament will complete its term until November.

Zelenskiy beat the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko in a runoff last month, winning 73 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the lead singer of one of Ukraine's most popular rock bands and a former parliament member on Thursday announced his plans to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, front man of Okean Elzy, was widely expected to run in this year's presidential vote long before Zelenskiy surprised the electorate with his own bid. Known throughout the country as one of Ukraine's most beloved rock stars and an outspoken political activist, 44-year-old Vakarchuk presented his new Holos (Voice) Party at an outdoor event in central Kiev just across the road from the Rada building.

"The Supreme Rada has unfortunately turned into a toxic swamp which drains our future," Vakarchuk said in a live broadcast before introducing his team. "We ought to change that." An active supporter of opposition protests in 2004 known as the Orange Revolution, Vakarchuk was elected to parliament in 2007 before stepping down the following year.

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