WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko talked down a quickly-forming mob in Kiev, Ukraine on Sunday, that called for the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich. According to a report from the LA Times, protesters armed with bricks and flares threatened to storm the Presidential Administration Building Sunday before Klitschko, himself an opposition leader who has said he will run for president of the Ukraine in 2015, got hold of a bullhorn and told the crowd that if they were to use violence, they'd be walking into a "trap."
“I am telling you, get back!” Klitschko yelled at the crowd, reportedly pushing the men near him so hard that they almost fell down.
“You have no business here. Don't fall into a trap!”
Some estimates place the protest at about 200,000 people strong. The LA Times report said that after Klitschko's admonition, "the tense crowd began to reluctantly back up."
"Other opposition leaders and their followers joined in to stop the confrontation, persuading a majority of youths to return from the presidential headquarters to nearby Independence Square.
That defused a potentially dangerous confrontation during a mostly peaceful mass demonstration, the largest in Ukraine since the 2004-05 Orange Revolution. Opposition activists estimated the crowd at over 200,000. There were an undetermined number of injuries on both sides.
Kiev's police chief, Valery Koryak, resigned Sunday morning after taking responsibility for violent tactics used Saturday by security forces brought in from outside Kiev. During Sunday's demonstration, protesters succeeded in taking over the City Council building and two other municipal buildings.
The opposition is protesting Yanukovich's decision not to join the European Union, turning Ukraine back toward Russia's sphere of influence."
The 42 year-old boxer has not fought since a TKO win over Manuel Charr over a year ago. The WBC has said that the elder Klitschko brother has until Dec. 15 whether he will continue fighting. If he does not, the title will be vacated.
Klitschko, already a member of the Ukraine's parliament, announced in October that he will seek the nation's presidency. He has called President Yanukovich "authoritarian," and is seeking the office despite residing in Germany for the past decade.
- Politics & Government
- Unrest, Conflicts & War
- Vitali Klitschko