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Kyiv Mayor Klitschko Sues Tycoon Kolomoyskiy's TV Channel Amid Pressure Over Position

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko speaks to the press on July 26.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko speaks to the press on July 26.

KYIV -- Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko says he has filed a libel lawsuit against the 1+1 TV channel for "launching a widespread campaign" to discredit him and his former boxing champion brother Wladimir.

Vitali Klitschko announced the lawsuit at a press conference on July 26, questioning the fairness of the channel, owned by tycoon Ihor Kolomoyskiy, at a time when the government is rumored to be considering replacing Klitschko as chairman of Kyiv's City State Administration with the station's General Director Oleksiy Tkachenko.

"There is not a single day when this, one of the most popular television channels, does not attack the Kyiv Mayor. Lies, manipulation, fabricated information," Klitschko said.

"How can one say the television channel is unbiased when its leader has been named a key nominee to the post of the Kyiv's city state administration?" he added.

According to Klitschko, the station broadcast incorrect information about him when covering the alleged mishandling of some construction projects in the Ukrainian capital.

Klitschko also said that he disagrees with the government's decision, initiated by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to divide the duties of the Kyiv Mayor and the chief of the Kyiv City State Administration.

The positions are usually held by the same person, though the law allows for the seats to be held by two different people as Kyiv's mayor is elected by city residents, while the chief of the city state administration is appointed by the president.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman said on July 26 that the issue of Klitschko’s removal from the post of city state administration chief will be discussed at an upcoming government session.

Talking to RFE/RL later on July 26, Klitschko called Zelenskiy's idea "an attempt to gain control over Kyiv's mayor, who was elected by the people."

"A key clause in the law on the Ukrainian capital says that the mayor elected by the city residents is appointed as the chairman of the Kyiv city state administration. That is made for the executive and legislative branches of the city power to unite, so that the efforts of the elected Mayor are as effective as possible," Klitschko said, adding that "the influence of the president and the government on local administration contradict European Charter."

Klitschko also said he will fight to preserve his duties as Kyiv's Mayor and as the chief of the Kyiv city state administration.

"I will not give in ever. I will do everything to protect local self-governing institutions. This is a matter of principle that our city must have," Klitschko said.

Zelenskiy, who won the presidency in April in a landslide victory, is believed to have close ties with Kolomoyskiy.

Kolomoyskiy's former lawyer, Andriy Bohdan, led Zelenskiy’s presidential campaign and is now the head of the presidential administration.

Zelenskiy's Servant of the People Party won a landslide victory in July 21 snap parliamentary elections.

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