‘Zelenskyy is becoming an autocrat’ Kyiv mayor Klitschko says, as he warns Ukraine will soon be 'no different to Russia'

4 December 2023, 21:15 | Updated: 4 December 2023, 21:18

The mayor of Kyiv has claimed president Zelenskyy is becoming increasingly autocratic.
The mayor of Kyiv has claimed president Zelenskyy is becoming increasingly autocratic. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is becoming increasingly autocratic and ‘similar to Russia’, the mayor of Kyiv has said.

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Vitalo Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, has said that Ukraine will soon be no different to Russia, claiming that leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy is turning autocratic.

“People wonder why we weren’t better prepared for this war, why Zelenskyy denied until the end that it would come to this,” Klitschko told Swiss media outlet 20 Minuten.

“People see who’s effective and who’s not. And there were and still are a lot of expectations. Zelenskyy is paying for mistakes he has made.”

The people of Ukraine are losing trust in the president, the former heavyweight boxing champion also said.

His comments come almost two years after Russia invaded Ukraine and after the latter's unsuccessful counteroffensive.

Klitschko has been at odds with Zelenskyy since last winter when the president accused the Kyiv mayor of failing to maintain the city’s bomb shelters.

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Internal polls in Ukraine suggest trust has fallen in the president.
Internal polls in Ukraine suggest trust has fallen in the president. Picture: Alamy

Falling trust in Zelenskyy is reflected by an internal poll recently conducted in Ukraine by The Economist, which showed that Ukrainians’ trust in the president is at 32 per cent.

Meanwhile, the head of the armed forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, holds the highest trust rating at 70 per cent.

Klitschko also told German outlet, Der Spiegel, that Zelenskyy was isolated and showed authoritarian tendencies.

“At some point we will no longer be any different from Russia, where everything depends on the whim of one man,” he said.

He did add, however, that he does not want Zelenskyy to leave office until the war is over.

An election was due to take place in Ukraine in March earlier this year but martial law introduced when Russia invaded dictated that the election could not go ahead.

Holding an election while the war continues, Kyiv argued, would be unfair given how many Ukrainians were forced to flee the country.

Klitschko’s run-in with Zelenskyy also follows the president’s spat with Ukrainian military chief, Valery Zaluzhny, who was criticised after he said the frontline had reached a stalemate.

Zelenskyy denied Zaluzhny’s claim, although admitted last week the counteroffensive had not achieved the “desired results”.

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