According to reports this week, Zelenskyy banned 11 political parties he said showed some loyalty to Russia while also nationalizing his country's media to create a "no-opposition zone" around him and his ruling faction.
As Axios reported, the list of parties now banned include Platform For Life, Shariy Party, Nashi, Opposition Bloc, Left Opposition, Union of Left Forces, State, Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, Socialist Party of Ukraine, Socialists Party and Volodymyr Saldo Bloc.
In a speech that was posted online, the Ukrainian president said his country's National Security and Defense Council agreed to his banning the activities of those parties, The Hill reported.
"Given the full-scale war waged by the Russian Federation and the ties of some political structures with this state, any activity of a number of political parties during the martial law is suspended," Zelenskyy noted in his address to the country.
In addition, Zelenskyy noted that Ukraine's Ministry of Justice had been “instructed to immediately take comprehensive measures to ban the activities of these political parties in the prescribed manner," the Washington Post added.
"Any activity of politicians aimed at splitting or collaborating will not succeed," Zelenskyy added. "But it will get a tough response."
In a Sunday interview with CNN host Fareed Zakaria, the Ukrainian president also warned that it is possible the conflict could escalate into a third world war if negotiations with Russia prove fruitless.
“Unfortunately, our dignity is not going to preserve the lives, so I think that we have to do any format, any chance, so in order to have ... the possibility of talking to Putin. But if these attempts fail, that would mean ... a third world war,” Zelenskyy told Zakaria.
Antiwar.com notes that the Platform for Life Party is Ukraine's largest opposition faction and at present holds 44 seats in parliament. And last year, Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the party, was accused by the government of committing treason and placed under house arrest.
Another of the banned parties, Nashi, is led by Yevhen Myrayev. The United Kingdom previously accused him of working with the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin to overthrow the Ukrainian government. That said, Murayev was actually sanctioned by Russia in 2018.
"Ukraine's Russian minority has faced increased discrimination since the 2014 coup. The opposition parties largely represent 17 percent of the Ukrainian people who are ethnic Russians. Language and cultural laws have targeted Russian movies, including one starring [Zelenskyy]," Antiwar.com reported.
"The new presidential order is a part of [Zelenskyy's] effort to create a unified political narrative in Ukraine. He has announced an information policy that combines 'all national TV channels…[into] a single information platform of strategic communication,'" the site added.
Reuters reported that until Zelenskyy's media crackdown this week, privately-owned outlets in the country operated without interference.
In a statement on Tuesday, March 22, Zelenskyy claimed that Russian troops were "kidnapping" and "torturing" Ukrainian children and that Putin's forces had completely devastated Mariupol, a port city that Russian troops surrounded and cut off more than a week ago.
"Kyiv has been through harsh wars throughout its history. After all of the victims and sacrifice it deserves to live in peace just as the same as Rome deserves to live in eternal peace, or any other city in this world," Zelenskyy said in an address to Italian lawmakers.
"Unfortunately, this is not the case. The bombs are falling every day, these attacks are happening in Kyiv and around towns in Kyiv. Russian troops around Kyiv are killing and torturing. They are torturing and kidnapping children, they are stealing what we have there, robbing everything," Zelenskyy continued.
"This is what happened in Europe last time due to the Nazis when they were occupying other countries. Russian artillery and missiles are not stopping destroying Ukrainian cities. Some cities like Mariupol as you have heard have been completely destroyed."