Tue, May 27, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Klitschko set for knockout blow to mayoral ambitions

AP AND DPA , KIEV AND MOSCOW

Former heavyweight boxing world champion Vitali Klitschko, 36, was set for defeat yesterday in his bid to be elected mayor of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, according to the first official election results.

After approximately 20 percent of the ballots had been counted, incumbent Leonid Chernovetsky had a 37.53 per cent lead, Ukrainian media reported.

Klitschko was in third place with about 17 per cent behind former secret service chief, Alexander Turchynov, with 18.4 per cent.

The preliminary results are expected on Thursday.

As there will be no run-off vote, the candidate with the most first-round votes will be declared the winner.

Klitschko has been active in politics since the 2004 Orange Revolution led by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who are now at odds.

He has a seat in Kiev city council which he defended in the municipal elections held at the same time as the mayoral polls.

His independent block received 10 percent of the vote, according to the first results.

This was the second bid for the mayoral title by Klitschko. He lost to Chernovetsky in the 2006 mayoral election.

Klitschko is scheduled to try to regain his boxing title this fall, and campaigned on promises to fight corruption.

In a what was seen as a bid by Chernovetsky to hurt Klitschko’s chances, a nonprofit organization arranged a music festival outside the city as part of celebrations of Kiev Day, which coincided with the vote. It promised free tickets for young people, who form the boxer’s power base.

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