All of Ukraine is becoming dependent on the “mood” of a single person, Vitaly Klitschko says
Ukraine’s municipal authorities now remain the only independent force in the country, which has grown increasingly authoritarian amid the conflict with Russia, the Mayor of Kiev Vitaly Klitschko has said.
Klitschko shared his assessment of the state of ‘democracy’ in Ukraine in an interview with German daily Der Spiegel, published on Friday. The country’s governing institutes have greatly deteriorated amid the hostilities, with local municipal authorities effectively remaining the only independent force standing, he asserted.
“Ukraine is on the path to authoritarianism,” the mayor said. “There is only one independent institution left –local authorities– and they are under enormous pressure.”
During the conflict, the central government has been communicating poorly, if at all, with local authorities, the mayor of the Ukrainian capital claimed.
“In a year and a half since the beginning of the conflict with Russia, there has not been a single meeting or telephone conversation between [the city of] Kiev and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. At some point, we will get to the situation where everything depends on the mood of a single person,” Klitschko told Der Spiegel.
Boxing star-turned-politician Klitschko was elevated to his position shortly after Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan coup, remaining one of the few Poroshenko-era officials to retain his post under Zelensky.
Over the past few months, relations between the capital’s mayor and the central government have been marred by multiple public spats. In June, for instance, the national government reprimanded Klitschko over the state of the city’s bomb shelters, with the heads of two districts and two acting district heads dismissed from their posts over their failure to keep the facilities operational.
Klitschko also became one of the first major Ukrainian public figures to admit the failure of his country’s long-heralded counteroffensive against the Russian forces. In early November, the mayor said the troops were moving “slowly” and were unable to “swiftly breach” fortifications erected by Russia.
The mayor’s assessment drastically contrasted with the stance taken by the president at the time, who was insisting the counteroffensive was still going on and consistently denied any setbacks. Zelensky conceded its failure only this week, telling AP that he now considers the fact that his country’s troops are not retreating at the moment a “satisfying” result.
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