But can the 40-year-old Klitschko become Ukraine’s political champion as well, rescuing the nation from what he and most everyone else – except those in President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration – see as a slide into authoritarianism?
Klitschko is clearly unhappy – as are most Ukrainians – with the current political leaders. He offers a moral voice that the nation is lacking – and a call to action.
“When the government imprisons members of the opposition, the police break up peaceful demonstrations and courts forbid gatherings, it’s hard to claim that there is respect for human rights,” Klitschko wrote last fall in a widely published opinion piece. (Kyiv Post, Nov. 24, 2011. "My new fight is to stop Ukraine from ‘sliding into tyranny.’) “When reporters are told what questions to ask officials and what answers can be published, it’s hard to claim that there is free speech. When court decisions can be bought, the rule of law has no meaning. These relics of autocracy can be found in the present government. But history shows that today’s rulers must change or be swept from power.”