Vitali Klitschko was elected to the parliament last fall and is planning a presidential run.
Vitali Klitschko was elected to the parliament last fall and is planning a presidential run.
AFP/Getty Images

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Vitali Klitschko, a heavyweight boxing champion and top Ukrainian opposition leader, says he will run for the ex-Soviet nation's presidency in 2015.

The 42-year-old was elected to parliament last fall as the head of his pro-Western party Udar ("Punch" in English). Since then, Klitschko, the reigning WBC heavyweight champion, has campaigned against what he calls authoritarian moves by President Viktor Yanukovych.

He particularly criticized the jailing of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which was seen as politically motivated by the West.

Klitschko announced his widely expected presidential bid Thursday in response to efforts by pro-government forces to pass a bill that could prevent him from running because he has permanent residency status in Germany.

Klitschko vowed that he "will not be frightened or stopped by this."

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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