There is no friendship in politics. Another testament to the fact is an indirect dialogue between the two legendary Ukrainian athletes who are now trying to conquer political heights.
Andrii Shevchenko who recently finished his career on a high note offered Vitalii Klitschko to hold political debates between the Strike and Ukraine Ahead parties. He did so during a TV program after congratulating Klitschko on his victory in the latest fight. "I congratulate Vitalii. He is a good man, I wish him luck in sports and politics. It so happened that we are in different parties and that is why I offer for our teams to meet in political debates and discuss the matters of the future of Ukraine," said Shevchenko.
Vitali Klitschko's answer was much harsher than expected. "We are ready to debate with our main opponent - the ruling party, the Party of Regions. Debating with parties who as of today have a dubious chance of getting into the parliament and receiving more than 5% is pointless," he stated.
The situation can be viewed differently. For instance, we can remember Klitschko's statement before Euro-2012: "I am a personal fan of Andrii. We have been friends for so many years. I can say one thing: Shevchenko is not only a wonderful football player but he is a wonderful person as well as a trusted friend." This shows us inexperienced politician Shevchenko who was snapped by his "friend" Klitschko who became more cynical after years in Kiev city council. The interesting thing is that Klitschko himself looks less confident compared to other more experienced politicians. For example, deputy Taras Chornovil recently noted: "He (Klitschko) is going down very fast and very rapidly and I think he will not survive until the presidential elections (2015) as a politician." Remarks about Shevchenko are even less flattering. Political expert Taras Berezovets reminded that the previous political step of Shevchenko was joining the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (United) 14 years ago. "He joined that party and seems that he did not leave it yet. Shevchenko is a political teenager who does not understand the realities. He does not understand that he is a laughing stock. And the reaction from football fans is another testament to that. He stopped being an idol," stressed Berezovets. And this is not an isolated opinion.
On the other hand you can understand politician Klitschko. Both Udar and Ukraine Ahead position themselves as young political powers. Both are aiming at about the same electorate. Those are the people who were let down by Tigipko, some part of uncertain opposition supporters and all those who are disappointed in the Party of Regions and have not been picked up by the communists. And both parties are often called the regime's muppets to boot. Klitschko is still trying to disown the cooperation with the ruling party while Korolevska's image was hopelessly ruined from the very beginning. That is why it is important for Klitschko to keep as far as possible from his twin party.
Udar's ratings are sufficient to get into the parliament. According to the polls of Research & Branding, Klitschko's party receives 11.4% while Ukraine Ahead can count on only 3%. However, according to director of Democratic Initiatives Fund Irina Bekeshkina, both parties have unstable voters. "There is such an indicator as the constituent stability, confidence that he will vote for the party. The confidence level is high in the case of the so-called old parties - the Party of Regions, Batkivschyna, the Communist Party and Freedom. Their indicators are around 60% while Udar and Ukraine Ahead have a low indicator of about 30%," said the expert.
These indicators probably do not add to the confidence of Klitschko. Especially, considering the fact that after unsuccessful attempt to gain opposition electorate, Korolevska's party will probably try to leech to Udar. "I see what they are trying to do to Vitali: they call him political can and try to tie him to the Presidential Administration. And we are experiencing something similar because everywhere people are trying to tie us to the Party of Regions calling us the regime's pet project," stated Korolevskaia in reply to Klitschko's debate refusal.
History knows few cases when great athletes became good politicians. It can backfire - by discrediting yourself in politics you can easily ensure that people will forget your previous achievements. Just look at Sergii Bubka. Neither Klitschko nor Shevchenko have not yet become so infamous but they are going in the right direction. For now they are - in the better sense - still symbols of Ukraine in the world but things can turn upside down in the nearest future. It is always hard to see your idols fall but it is even worse to find out that people praised by millions turned out to be not much better than most politicians. It is clear already how the opinion of regular Ukrainians changes for worse. Klitschko is often accused of not having a clear position on major issues: the Russian language, Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the cases against opposition leaders and other. Udar's leader is used to speaking in general terms and it is already a bit sore. Shevchenko is being openly mocked and is validly considered Korolevska's muppet who joined the party solely for image purposes. If these are politicians of a new generation then the future of Ukraine seems much more foggy than at the first sight.