Kiev, May 20: Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has been sworn in as the country's new president at a ceremony in the capital Kiev.
Mr Zelensky, who has no previous political experience, scored a landslide victory in last month's presidential election. He ousted incumbent Petro Poroshenko who had been in power since 2014.
Mr Zelensky has promised to tackle corruption and bring an end to the war with Russian-backed rebels in the east, said a BBC News report on Monday.
At the ceremony, Mr Zelensky was given golden symbols of office, including a sceptre, which he held aloft in a victory salute.
But at one point, referring to the conflict in the east, he switched to Russian, saying: "I'm convinced that for this dialogue to start, we must see the return of all Ukrainian prisoners" - apparently a message to the Russian government.
But parliament disagreed and voted to hold it on Monday morning.
Voldymyr Zelensky has done this all before - albeit in a TV series, where he played the part of Ukraine's president. At that fictional inauguration he arrived in a taxi and, in his speech, refused to make bold promises. Instead he pledged to do his best for the people of Ukraine.
Mr Zelensky starred in the long-running satirical drama Servant of the People in which his character accidentally becomes Ukraine's president. He plays a teacher who is elected after his expletive-laden rant about corruption goes viral on social media.
With no previous political experience, Mr Zelensky's campaign focused on his difference from the other candidates rather than on any concrete policy ideas.
Despite this, he stormed to victory and won more than 70pc of the vote.
He made tackling Ukraine's deep-rooted corruption a major campaign theme. Last month, his aides announced plans to scrap MPs' immunity from prosecution and make military purchases more transparent. But perhaps the biggest challenges the new leader will face is the continuing conflict with Russian-backed forces in the east.
In the run-up to his election, Mr Zelensky said he wanted to "renew relations" with eastern Ukraine and start a "powerful information war to end the conflict". Fighting in the region has claimed about 13,000 lives since Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014.
There have already been indications that Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to test the political novice. Shortly after the election, Mr Putin made it easier for those living in eastern Ukraine's separatist territories to obtain a Russian passport. The move was widely seen as a challenge to Mr Zelensky.
In a Facebook post in response, Mr Zelensky's team labelled Russia "an aggressor state which wages war against Ukraine". (UNI)