Kiev Mayor: Zelensky’s Ukraine is ‘Increasingly Autocratic’ and ‘Moving in Wrong Direction’

The mayor of Kiev, Ukraine said the country is “moving in the wrong direction” and becoming “increasingly autocratic” under President Volodymyr Zelensky, reported The Globe and Mail.

“The movement, what we see right now, I can’t say it’s democracy. It smells of the vertical and of authoritarianism,” said Mayor Vitali Klitschko. “Behind this is the wish of some people – I can’t say their names – but they wish everything to be centralized, and that’s why I see centralized media and TV in Ukraine, and they also try to centralize the power, to build a vertical.”

Klitschko, 52, has been mayor of Kiev since 2014 and is the former world heavyweight boxing champion. He also heads up the Kiev City State Administration, and is a former member of the Ukrainian Parliament.

The Globe and Mail reported that Klitschko said he has seen the move toward autocracy in Russia, “where almost nothing remains of opposition parties or media critical of President Vladimir Putin,” and Klitschko doesn’t want the same for Ukraine.

“The mayors and the heads of community are elected by citizens, and they are being instead replaced by people who are put in from the top. So that’s why I worry,” Klitschko said. “If I see mistakes and don’t speak about them, that means to be agreed – and I’m not.”

Klitschko also said there is an increasingly “centralized media and TV in Ukraine,” and The Globe and Mail reported on two instances of government pressure and surveillance of local reporters critical of the Ukrainian government. That includes journalist Yuriy Nikolov, who said that “unknown men” came to his apartment last week and “demanded that he join the army.” A handwritten sign that said “traitor” was reportedly left on Nikolov’s door.

“It’s very, very important never to forget what we’re fighting for,” Klitschko said. “We want to be part of the democratic, European family. To be part of the democratic world.”

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Photo: KYIV, UKRAINE - DECEMBER 1: Mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko speaks to journalists during the opening ceremony of the Podilsko-Voskresenskyi Bridge on December 1, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Podilsko-Voskresenskyi Bridge is a combined road-rail bridge over the Dnipro River. The two-level and 7 km (4 mi)-long bridge is intended to carry part of the future Podilsko-Vyhurivska Line of the Kyiv Metro and three lanes of road traffic in each direction, connecting the central Podil neighborhood to the left-bank parts of the city. The top level of the bridge will carry road traffic, while the bottom will carry rail traffic. (Photo by Oleksii Samsonov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)