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Klitschko Pulls Out Of Presidential Race

Vitali Klitschko will contest the Kyiv mayoral race.
Ukrainian politician Vitali Klitschko says he has decided against contesting a snap presidential election in May.

Addressing a congress of his Ukrainian Democratic Party for Reform (UDAR) on March 29, the boxer-turned-politician said he would instead back the candidacy of billionaire businessman Petro Poroshenko.

"In the interests of Ukraine, in order to save its unity, I offer our support to the only candidate of united democratic forces in the presidential election -- Petro Poroshenko," Klitschko said.

Klitschko added that Poroshenko “enjoys the strongest public support.”

He also announced he planned to run for mayor of Kyiv.

Poroshenko, who made his fortune in the chocolate industry, also delivered an acceptance speech laced with martial references.

"Our country is not only in a state of war; our country is not only in a state of occupation of a part of its territory; our country is facing gigantic risks and challenges that require very quick and efficient decisions to be taken," Poroshenko said.

Parliament called the presidential election -- scheduled for May 25 -- after voting to oust President Viktor Yanukovych in February, following three months of antigovernment protests.

Tymoshenko To Run

Other parties also officially declared their candidates.

Yulia's Tymoshenko's Fatherland Party has nominated her to be the party's candidate for president.

At a party congress in Kyiv, former Prime Minister Tymoshenko told delegates: "I know that if we fail to give the instruments of daily control over the government and politics to the people we risk again sliding down the path where another revolution will be needed.”

“I am your guarantee that you will be given real rights, will be given a real influence over the government, will be given a real say over the formation of all strategies of the country without exception," Tymoshenko said.

The Party of Regions of deposed President Yanukovych nominated Mikhailo Dobkin as its candidate.

Party of Regions member Serhiy Tigipko, who was the head of Yanukovych's campaign team in the 2004 presidential election, said the party must face its past and find ways to move beyond it.

"After all we should tell ourselves with all honesty the truth that it was us, right here, who created Yanukovych for what he was,” Tigipko said.

“Everything started at such conventions like this one where last time we voted for the list of candidates for the parliamentary elections without even seeing that list. It had been only handed out to people sitting in the front row."

Delegates also voted to expel Yanukovych, former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, former First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov, and several other former officials from Yanukovych's government from the party.

The right-wing Freedom party nominated its leader Oleh Tyahnybok to be its candidate for president.

Ukraine's Central Election Commission had reportedly already registered five candidates for the snap election in May.

Candidates have until April 4 to register as candidates for the vote, which will take place following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, deepening economic problems, and as the country's mainly Russian-speaking eastern regions are expressing growing discontent toward Kyiv.
Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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