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Klitschko says Ukraine is turning authoritarian as conflict with Zelensky persists

by Igor Kossov December 3, 2023 1:07 AM 1 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has told Der Spiegel that Ukraine is moving towards authoritarianism, seemingly making a veiled criticism of President Volodymyr Zelensky.  

"At some point we will no longer be any different from Russia, where everything depends on the whim of one man," the former heavyweight boxing champion said in a Dec. 1 interview.

Zelensky's spokesman Serhiy Nikiforov did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

The Kyiv mayor said that Ukraine was leaderless and chaotic in the opening months of the full-scale war, and credited Ukraine's mayors with playing key leadership roles, protecting their residents and supporting the military.    

But Klitschko believes the President's Office sees mayors merely as an atavistic obstacle to the centralization of power.    

Despite being the mayor of Ukraine's capital, Klitschko said he hasn't talked to Zelensky since the full-scale invasion began.  

Zelensky's administration has been none too pleased with Klitschko's handling of Kyiv's protection since February 2022. Their public comments repeatedly took the mayor to task for the poor conditions of the city's bomb shelters and prolonged blackouts.  

Klitschko and Zelensky have been at odds since the president's first year in office. The conflict has played out in repeated investigations and attempts to remove the mayor from the Kyiv City State Administration.

How Zelensky’s administration moves to dismantle press freedom in Ukraine
When President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Servant of the People party swept into power in 2019, the president’s office famously said it “doesn’t need journalists.” Instead, Andriy Bohdan, the head of the president’s office at the time, said that Zelensky’s team could communicate “directly” with the
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