Kyiv mayor Vitali Klychko is going to run for the mayor post again, however, he has no ambitions to take part in the 2019 presidential election, the politician and former heavyweight boxer said in an interview with Novoye Vremia magazine.
Klychko, one of the leaders of the Euromaidan popular uprising in Ukraine, has held the post of Kyiv mayor since June 2014.
"I have been holding this post for four years. I have already done many things, and most importantly a push [for reforms]. The past years were difficult. But I can say now that I will run for a mayor's post [again], because I want to accomplish the plans I have voiced," Klychko said in the interview.
Balazs Jarabik, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, believes that President Petro Poroshenko will benefit from Klychko's move. "Poroshenko's plan has been to discourage everyone possible and face [former prime minister Yulia] Tymoshenko [during the 2019 election]. Lets the least unpopular wins," he tweeted on July 16.
The expert added that given the fact that Poroshenko faces "an uphill battle" to get into the second round of the election, "every vote what would slice his potential support counts".
In April 2015, Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash said in a court in Vienna that he had had a meeting with Poroshenko and Klychko on the eve of the 2014 presidential election. The result of the meeting was that Klychko, who was riding high in the polls, would withdraw his candidacy and instead support Poroshenko’s bid to be president.
"We secured what we wanted: Poroshenko became president, Klychko the Kyiv mayor," Firtash said in court, refusing to provide any details and citing a confidentiality agreement between the parties. The billionaire added that his main goal had been to prevent Tymoshenko, a bitter rival, from winning the election.
Currently, Tymoshenko is the first politician in the war-torn country to officially announce the launch of a campaign for the 2019 presidential elections. Moreover, the head of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party is starting her campaign as a leader in the opinion polls.
Tymoshenko is now the most popular candidate for the nation's president, with 22.8% support among decided voters, according to the latest poll conducted in June by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS). She is followed by former defence minister Anatoliy Grytsenko (16%), populist Oleh Lyashko (13.2%), pro-Russian opposition leader Yuriy Boyko (10.6%) and Poroshenko (10.5%).