Former boxing world champion Vitali Klitschko was sprayed with fire extinguisher foam yesterday as he tried to be a peacemaker between prostesters and police during violent clashes in the capital city of Kiev.
Klitschko, 42, a member of the Ukrainian parliament since 2012, is running for president of the country as the leader of the pro-European Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform opposition party. He was on hand to try to convince protestors that they shouldn’t provoke the security forces when he was hosed down by fire extinguisher foam.
Anti-government protesters have engulfed Kiev’s Independence Square to rally against the incumbent president Viktor Yanukovych. “Some 200,000 people had filled Kiev’s Independence Square and surrounding streets for a new mass rally in defiance of new strict curbs on protests passed by lawmakers in a show of hands last week and signed into law by Yanukovych.” Opposition to Yanukovych has been mounting since he decided “to ditch a key pact with the EU in November in favor of closer ties with Moscow sparked the largest rallies since Ukraine’s 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution.”
The Ukrainian presidential election is scheduled for February 26, 2015. According to Vitali Klitschko, “[President] Yanukovych and his henchmen want to steal our country. Ukraine is united as never before in its struggle against those in power today, in its determination not to allow a dictatorship.”
The former WBC and WBO heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko retired from boxing with a record of 45-2 so the could focus on politics. Klitschko acquired the nickname “Dr. Ironfist” after earning a PhD in Sports Science.
Klitschko was sprayed with tear gas in July 2012 when he joined thousands of other Ukrainians in Kiev who were protesting a parliamentary bill which makes Russian, and not Ukrainian, the official language in some formal settings.
[top image credit: Sławek]