Vitaly Klitschko said he drew criticism by backing an official whose Ukrainian passport was revoked while on a trip abroad.
The Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky has a veiled threat to strip the citizenship of Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, the head of Ukraine's capital, said in an interview published on Monday.
I had a conversation with an innuendo: Since you are so proactive, we could look into your German citizenship, he said. I d be very surprised if someone showed me a German passport in my name and took it away, he said, as cited by the website Babel.
The exchange was allegedly happened after Klitschko signed a public call for Zelensky to reverse his decision to revoke the Ukrainian citizenship of Ukrainian official Gennady Korban, which he ordered last month.
Korban, a longtime close ally of Dnepr Mayor Boris Filatov, was among several Ukrainians whose citizenship was taken away by Zelensky. He was on a foreign trip when the move was made. When he tried to return to Ukraine, he found himself in an impasse when the border guards wouldn't let him cross back into his home country. Klitschko did not reveal who put pressure on him, but he said he supported reinstating Korban s citizenship on principle rather than as a political favor to Filatov.
He explained that everything must happen under universal principles, not selectively. In this case, this is how it looks: we ll take this one's citizenship and let others keep theirs, so that they are more pliable, realizing that we can take theirs too. Ukraine does not allow dual citizenship. Ukrainians who hold foreign passports are treated as regular citizens but are banned from holding public office under the law. A Ukrainian citizen who takes another passport may be revoked by the president.
This principle is often ignored in practice. For example, billionaire Igor Kolomoysky, one of the people targeted by Zelensky's July order, had served as a governor in Ukraine despite holding the citizenship of Cyprus and Israel at the time. Kolomoysky joked that it was OK, since the law bans dual citizenship, not triple citizenship.
Klitschko gave the interviewer the assurance that Ukrainian citizenship is the only one he has. Before going into politics, the official was a world-renowned boxer and spent much of his career in Germany.
Korban, whose parents are Israelis, has denied rumors that he holds a passport of the Jewish state.
I take pleasure in vacationing in Israel. He said in 2015 that he may leave the country, but I have no intention to ask for asylum or citizenship there, since I plan to continue my career in my homeland, Ukraine.
After Zelensky ordered the issue was brought back into the media spotlight.
Israel s ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, said his nation does not normally disclose if a person has its citizenship to protect privacy. As far as I know, no requests of that nature came from Ukraine, he said.