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Vitali Klitschko Sprayed by Fire Extinguisher Trying to Stop Fight with Police

Efrem Lukatsky/AP Images
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

Ukrainian protesters sprayed former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko with a fire extinguisher when he tried to stop them from attacking the police.

As reported by David Kent of the Daily Mail, the boxer-turned-politician became embroiled in the mayhem as a demonstration against the new protest laws turned violent. Despite the experience, Klitschko spoke defiantly:

(President Victor) Yanukovych and his henchmen want to steal our country. Ukraine is united as never before in its struggle against those in power today, in its determination not to allow a dictatorship.

Josh Layton of the Mirror reports 100,000 demonstrators joined Klitschko's fight against President Yanukovych, who recently stopped the country from moving toward the European Union by brokering a deal with Russia.

As reported by BBC News, this would see Putin's country offer "a discount of almost a third on Russian gas" and also see the nation "buy billions of dollars' worth of Ukrainian government bonds."

The opposition wishes to know what Yanukovych has offered in return, as the agreement appears uncomfortably opaque.

Yanukovych recently limited the nation's right to "protest, civic activism and free speech," per Kent's report. The new laws aim to prevent rally attendants from wearing masks or protective hats during demonstrations, but hordes of protesters responding by appearing in "theatrical masks and kitchen pots" at the latest rally.

Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press

The president also wishes to halt anti-government groups who may receive support from the West and aim to "equate critical reporting with defamation."

For Klitschko, this experience is a world away from the ring he left behind after his 2012 bout with Manuel Charr. He followed his decision to vacate the WBC title with plans to run for the presidency of Ukraine, per The Guardian, where he is already leader of the Udar party.

While the next vote isn't until 2015, it seems Klitschko, the opposition and Yanukovych have a testing time ahead, as noted by Jim Roberts of Mashable:

Although the recent protests began without violence, the speed with which events escalated is certainly worrying for all.

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