Cyber Security and Emerging Threats Eastern Europe and Russia Expanding Community Justine Reisler Security Society

Leaders of the Ukrainian Opposition: Bright Options for the Future?

Vitali Klitschko aka Dr Ironfist

Vitali Klitschko is the leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party; the acronym translates to “Punch/Strike.” Klitschko was born in the Soviet Union in what is now Kyrgyzstan. He is a titanic figure in heavyweight boxing, a former World Boxing Organization and World Boxing Council champion with a PHD in Sports Science. He left boxing entirely to focus on politics in 2005. He ran for mayor twice unsuccessfully before creating the Punch Party which stands in the middle of the political spectrum. Since then he has had much more success; he was elected to parliament in 2012 and his party won 40 out of 120 seats in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament). He has announced he will run for President in 2015. Klitschko is dedicated to reforming Ukrainian politics; he refused an offer from President Viktor Yanukovych to take the position of Deputy Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, saying he will not accept an offer to become part of Yanukovych’s corrupt government.

Klitschko, despite his short-lived political experience, would be a positive figure for change in Ukraine if successful in 2015.  His party represents moderate Ukrainian nationalists and liberals who agree with the European Integration Project but don’t hold any extreme positions towards Russians or the Russian language. His policy stance is anti-corruption and pro-transparency; he favors judicial reform and wants to improve the Ukrainian economy.  To achieve improvement, he favors an Association Agreement with the European Union. Despite his pro-Western position, he has taken no interest in the divisive Russian language debates that cause polarization between Western and Eastern Ukrainians. He says he entered politics because the people need him and the people say “He’s earned his fortune with his hands, so he doesn’t need to steal from the people.” He is a popular figure within the Ukrainian protest movement but Russian analysts believe his German passport will be a hindrance to his electoral success in the future.