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Boxer Vitali Klitschko to run for president of Ukraine

His candidacy is being challenged by a new bill that declares Ukrainians with permanent resident status in another country cannot run.

Vitali klitschko running for ukraine presidentEnlarge
Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian opposition UDAR (Punch) party, announced in October that he would run for president. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has announced that he will run for president of Ukraine in the March 2015 election.

The 42-year-old and his brother Wladimir currently hold all the major versions of the world heavyweight title, according to Sport24. Klitschko serves as a member of Ukrainian parliament, representing the UDAR (Punch) party that he helped start in 2010.

"In order to put an end to various rumors and attempts to finish me off as a potential candidate, I would like to announce the following: I am running for president," Klitschko told parliament on Thursday after the legislative body passed a bill that bars people with permanent resident status in another country to seek Ukraine’s highest office.

The bill amended Ukraine's tax code to declare that Ukrainian nationals holding permanent resident status in another country cannot be considered residents of Ukraine. Previously, they were only required to live in Ukraine for at least 180 days a year.

The change could put a wrinkle in Klitschko's presidential ambitions: He's spent so much time training in Germany that he has permanent resident status there.

"Yes, I have residency rights in Germany," he told parliament. "But this does not contravene Ukrainian law or annul my citizenship."

The bill may still be challenged or altered in parliament.

"We would not be seeing these (political) games if (current Ukrainian president) Yanukovych did not view him as a viable political rival," Volodymyr Fesenko of the Penta political research institute told Sport24.

"My main goal is for Ukraine to be a European, modern country with European standards of life," Klitschko told the BBC in August.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/131025/boxer-vitali-klitschko-run-president-ukraine