Ukrainian authorities have reportedly offered professional boxer Vitali Klitschko, who also leads the opposition UDAR (Punch) Party, $1 billion to not fun for president in 2015. And Klitschko reportedly turned them down.
The Ukrainska Pravda newspaper reported that Klitschko, who is reportedly the most influential opposition leader in Ukraine, refused all proposals to bribe him to not challenge the ruling party.
He was also reportedly offered the promise that if he did win the presidency, the Constitution, which Ukrainian protesters feel is coming under assault with recent laws against protesting that threaten to undermine the right to free speech, would “come into force again” if he appointed Viktor Yanukovych as Prime Minister. He refused that offer as well.
During the protests, “Klitschko has begun to look like a national leader” and, according to the UK Independent, he has the advantage of not being “tarred by failures in power.” In addition, Klitschko’s message has been to “fight for a political rather than armed solution.”
Opposition leaders are demanding that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych resign and on Friday, “Klitschko said outside mediation was needed if any progress is to be made in talks between the opposition and government.”
“International mediators must be involved in any discussion of the crisis in Ukraine,” he said. “Yanukovych decided to declare war on his own people rather than stop the confrontation and approach resolving the situation with common sense. He tries to keep power at a price of blood and destabilize the country. He must be stopped.”
The violent protests escalated anti-protest laws “sparked concerns they could be used to put down demonstrations and deny people the right to free speech.” Those laws include “provisions barring people from wearing helmets and masks to rallies, from setting up tents or sound equipment without prior police permission, and from traveling in convoys of more than five vehicles without authorization.”
Klitschko’s steadfastness has not surprised those in the boxing world. The Klitschko brothers, both of whom have been heavyweight boxing champions, have said in the past they would turn down $1 billion to fight each other to honor their promise to their mother that they would never do so.