by Zjan Shirinian
March 29, 2014 (ISN) – Former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has announced he will not stand in the Ukrainian Presidential elections being held in May.
Instead, he is throwing his support behind billionaire businessman Petro Poroshenko, who made his fortune in the chocolate industry and was a former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Trade and Economic Development.
Explaining his decision, Klitschko said: “We have to nominate a single candidate representing the democratic forces.
“This has to be a candidate who enjoys the strongest public support.
“Today, this candidate in my opinion is Petro Poroshenko.”
The boxer turned politician had said last month that he would stand in the Presidential race.
Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party, favours closer ties with Europe and was at the heart of protests that ultimately led to the toppling of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych’s administration last month.
The protests originally began in late November when Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia.
Ukrainian capital Kiev witnessed the majority of the violent protests.
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has also said she will stand for the Presidency.
Klitschko, 42, first won the World Boxing Organisation heavyweight title in 1999, and the World Boxing Council title for the first time in 2008.
The continued unrest in Ukraine has cast doubt on the viability of Lviv’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.