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Ukraine's Government Backs Away From Fight With Kyiv Mayor Klitschko

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko (file photo)
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko (file photo)

Ukraine's government says it will not seek to take away part of Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko's executive powers, at least for now.

Vasyl Ryabchuk, spokesman for Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman, wrote on Facebook on August 14 that the cabinet decided not to be involved in the issue following weeks of rumors that it may relieve the former heavyweight boxing champion of his powers as head of Kyiv's city

"My journalist colleagues, I am answering all of you at once. The issue on the consensus regarding relieving Vitaliy Klitschko of his duties was discussed by the government members. The decision was made that the Cabinet's current staff will not look into it."

Ryabchuk did not say whether a cabinet shuffle should change the stance concerning Klitschko, who has been locked in a power struggle with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy over the position.

While Kyiv citizens elect a mayor, the president appoints and dismisses the head of the Kyiv city administration at the behest of the government. Traditionally, the mayor has held both positions to allow smoother governing of the capital region.

Klitschko has held the executive seat of Kyiv since June 2014, with his current mandate expiring in October this year.

Zelenskiy on July 24 asked the Cabinet of Ministers to dismiss Klitschko, who has vowed that he "won’t give up."

A December 2003 Constitutional Court ruling said that the mayor has exclusive rights to select the city administration head.

In an earlier interview with RFE/RL, Klitschko said that the actions of Zelenskiy’s staff "smell of authoritarianism," adding that if he loses his city management powers, he’ll go to the courts, as well as to "the public, we’ll take all the steps to prevent this."

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