Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klitshchko can be deprived of a part of his powers. Photo: Klitschko's Facebook page.
The famous boxer came to power in Kyiv in 2014 and was reelected in the 2015 local elections. Also in 2014, then-president Petro Poroshenko appointed Klitschko as head of the Kyiv City State Administration, the state body of executive power.
However, Klitschko can partially be stripped of his powers, as the office of newly elected President Zelenskyy displays intentions to dismiss him from the position of the head of the Kyiv Administration.
Justifying the intention, Andriy Bohdan, chief of the President’s Office, quoted the Constitution which says that the president of Ukraine appoints and dismisses heads of local state administrations at the government’s request, and the law on local state administrations, according to which the president appoints the heads on the term of his presidency. If a new president is elected, the heads of administrations should continue to exercise their powers until new heads are appointed.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said that the government will consider Klitschko’s dismissal from the position of the City Administration head during the next meeting. However, so far, the Prime Minister went on a vacation; correspondingly the next meeting will not take place this week.
Meanwhile, Klitschko stated that stripping the elected mayor of executive powers means returning to the methods of the times of runaway president Viktor Yanukovych, when mayors served a purely decorative function while the real decisions were made by an appointee of the president, and depriving Kyiv of self-governance.
Viktor Taran, head of the Kyiv Center for Political Studies Aidos, also believes the course chosen by Zelenskyy is unlawful, as it contradicts the decision of the Constitutional Court which in 2003 ruled that the Kyiv Administration has to be headed only by an elected mayor whom the president appoints to the position. Taran also draws parallels to Yanukovych, who appointed a head to the Kyiv city administration in 2010 in order to take control over the capital, contravening the elected mayor.
Who could replace Klitschko?
Media discuss two candidates who can head the city administration instead of Klitschko. Among them is Oleksandr Tkachenko, director-general of the 1+1 media holding owned by oligarch Igor Kolomoyskyi, and businessman Andriy Kholodov. Both were elected to parliament as part of Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party.
Ukrayinska Pravda described Tkachenko to have played a key role in getting Servant of the People candidates elected in all Kyiv single-mandate constituencies, helping them formulate their messaging and media strategy.
According to the Ukrayinska Pravda’s sources in the mayor’s team, apart from preparing for parliamentary elections, Tkachenko together with Bohdan’s friend and constructor Andriy Vavrysh, had held interviews with candidates for the positions of heads of district administrations in Kyiv.
Tkachenko himself refuted the information, as well as stated that he did not discuss the possibility of being appointed as Head of the Kyiv city administration with Zelenskyy.
Before the elections, in an interview with censor.net, Tkachenko stated that, in fact, it is not Klitschko who rules Kyiv, but Vadim Stolar. Stolar used to be a member of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. In the 2014 elections, media ascribed him heading the headquarters of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. After the 2019 elections, he entered parliament as part of the pro-Russian party the Opposition Platform for Life. His name is also related to the greatest construction scams in Kyiv at the beginning of the 2000s. Klitschko refutes Tkachenko’s accusation.
However, it’s not only the 1+1 director who points at Klitschko’s and Stolar’s connections. Stolar has held the title of Kyiv’s gray cardinal for a long time already. Also, in 2017, he was spotted coming back from Naples on a private jet with Klitschko.
The second candidate, Kholodov, is the godfather of a child of Viktor Medvedchuk, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main voice in Ukraine. He is rumored to be a shadow businessman earning money from cigarettes retail in Kyiv. Officially, he is a beneficiary of a factory which produces construction materials.
“I would not say that there is a terrible conflict between Kholodov and Tkachenko. However, both of them regularly come to the Office of the President and ‘sell’ their candidacies,” Ukrayinska Pravda quotes its source in the President’s Office.
While the situation is not resolved, Klitschko and Bohdan continue to exchange diatribes with each other. Bohdan has claimed he was offered a piece of $40 mn of revenue from a corruption scheme in exchange for Klitschko keeping his position, to which Klitschko responded by filing a claim to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Meanwhile, Klitschko said that the President’s Office had put forward a condition for him remaining head of the city administration – if he demonstrates “effective work in combating corruption.”
Kyiv has always been important for politicians not only in terms of power. It has been a savory morsel for construction companies, with which city heads had often gotten in bed with. During his term, Klitschko created an image of a European mayor caring for his city for himself. Still, despite the declared fight against illegal construction, he has often been caught protecting them.