Klichko Refuses To Meet With Yanukovych

KIEV, Ukraine -- A planned crisis meeting Wednesday between President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition groups appeared in danger of callapse following the news that Vitaliy Klichko, Ukraine's most popular politician, has suddenly refused to visit Yanukovych’s office.

Vitaliy Klichko

Yanukovych invited the groups to his office on Wednesday afternoon to discuss ways of ending the political crisis that has delayed approval of key legislation suggested by the government.

But Klichko, who may have the best chance of beating Yanukovych at the next presidential election in March 2015, has flatly rejected the invitation.

“There must not be any meetings behind closed doors,” Klichko told Unian news agency on Tuesday.

“The best option is that we invite the president to address lawmakers in Parliament.” 

“The address is something that he must make and this is written in the constitution,” Klichko said.

“The meeting with the president must take place in Parliament. Let him come to us.” 

The comment differentiates Klichko from other opposition figures, such as Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of Batkivshchyna group, who had requested the meeting earlier this month.

Yatseniuk said Tuesday he hoped the meeting with Yanukovych would be “public” and “transparent.”

The comment comes after Klichko has been gaining in popular support among people in Ukraine and for the first time has scored the best rating among other politicians in Ukraine.

Klichko scored 16% support among respondents in May compared with Yanukovych’s 14% and Yatseniuk’s 10%, and Oleh Tiahnybok, the leader of the nationalist Svoboda party, who scored 6%, according to the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, a polling agency.

Klichko’s refusal to attend the meeting at the presidential administration may further boost his support among those voters who are especially critical of Yanukovych’s policies.

Klichko has been gaining major support from central and western regions of Ukraine, while also boasting relatively large support in eastern and southern regions, according to the poll.

Support in the central regions, which usually represent swing voter regions in Ukraine, is crucial for any candidate seeking victory at the presidential election. 

Meanwhile, opposition groups on Tuesday ended their protest in Parliament allowing lawmakers to begin normal operation.

This was the fourth such protest over the past seven months.

The opposition groups also demanded scheduling of special parliamentary elections in five majority districts, as well as mayoral and local elections in Kiev among other reasons.

One of the key issues to be discussed at the meeting will be the release of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The release of Tymoshenko is seen as one of the key issues that would make it possible for Ukraine to sign an agreement between with the European Union over free trade and political association in November.

Source: Ukrainian Journal