Heavyweight champ Klitschko predicts fraud in October Ukraine vote
Jan 12, 2012, 13:51 GMT
Kiev - Heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko on Thursday announced plans to head a reform party running in Ukraine's upcoming parliamentary elections, and accused the country's rulers of planning to falsify the result.
Klitschko said he expected his pro-Europe UDAR (Ukrainian: Punch) party to overcome a five per cent popularity barrier needed to enter the national legislature, and that he and his allies were ready to resist vote fraud planned by opponents.
'Falsification will take place and it is being planned,' Klitschko said at a press conference in Kiev. 'But we know how to defend our rights and we will not remain silent.'
Ukraine's four opposition parties should, Klitschko said, hold primaries for the October 28 election to pick single candidates to run in district votes against the ruling Regions Ukraine party, which is led by President Viktor Yanukovych.
Regions Ukraine supports close relations with Russia and government assistance to big business.
Ukraine's upcoming elections will use a mixed voting system with half of the legislature's 450 members selected from national party lists, and individual winners of single-mandate votes in 225 election districts forming the other half.
Klitschko has held the WBC heavyweight boxing title since 2008. His UDAR political party has been active in local Ukrainian politics since the mid 2000s, but has never had representatives in the national legislature.
Vitaly Klitschko and his boxing brother Vladimir, who holds the WBA and other heavyweight title belts, became prominent in Ukrainian politics in 2004 by denouncing a presidential election victory by Yanukovych, which he allegedly won fraudulently. Ukraine's supreme court later cancelled the result.