Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is turning Ukraine into an authoritarian state as public criticism of Ukrainian leadership is becoming more common.
“At some point we will no longer be any different from Russia, where everything depends on the whim of one man,” Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion, told Germany’s Der Spiegel.
In a separate interview, Klitschko also sided with Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, who was recently rebuked by Zelensky for saying the war had turned into a stalemate and that there was no chance of a breakthrough.
“[Zaluzhny] told the truth,” Klitschko told the Swiss outlet 20 Minutes. “Some may not want to hear the truth [but] we can’t lie to our people and partners indefinitely.”
Recent internal polling has shown that Zaluzhny has a good chance of beating Zelensky in a future presidential election and that the Ukrainian public trusts the general much more than the president. Ukrainian presidential elections are scheduled for March 2024, but Zelensky has ruled out holding a vote if the war is not over by then.
Ukraine’s constitution does not allow elections during martial law, although Zelensky previously said holding a vote was possible if the West bankrolled it. But he has since said elections are “not appropriate at this time.”
Klitschko also accused Zelensky of not being prepared for Russia’s February 2022 invasion. “People wonder why we weren’t better prepared for this war, why Zelensky denied until the end that it would come to this,” he said. “People see who’s effective and who’s not. And there were and still are a lot of expectations. Zelensky is paying for mistakes he has made.”