Sports

Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko on Vladimir Putin ‘kill list’


This article was originally published on stuff.co.nz and is reproduced with permission

Ukraine boxing legends Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are reportedly on a 24-person “kill list” ordered by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Times has revealed a list of high-profile Ukranians Putin wants killed as his invasion of the neighbouring country ramps up.

Russian troops invaded Ukraine late last week and are now in the northern areas of the capital Kyiv, where former world heavyweight champion Vitali is mayor.

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Vitali and Wladimir, another former world heavyweight champion, have taken up arms to defend their homeland.

Current boxing stars Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk have returned home to join the struggle against the invading Russians.

The Times reported the Wagner Group, a private militia run by one of President Putin’s closest allies and operating as an arm-length branch of the state, flew in mercenaries from Africa five weeks ago on a mission to help take out Ukraine President Zelensky’s government in return for a handsome fee.

“The mercenaries have been told that Putin wants a brief pause to show that he is negotiating with Zelensky, but assured them that no deal would be reached and that the effort would be simply ‘smoke and mirrors’, according to a source close to senior members of the Wagner Group,” The Times report said.

“The mercenaries are awaiting a signal from the Kremlin and have been promised hefty bonuses for killings in the next few days and safe passage out of Ukraine before the end of the week.

In addition to Zelensky their hit list contains 23 other figures, including the prime minister, the cabinet, the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir, both popular former boxing champions who have joined the military fight against the invaders.”

Times sources said the mercenaries had been briefed about the planned invasion of Ukraine in December, long before the Russian army was told.

The United Nations claims the Wagner Group has committed human rights abuses in the Central African Republic and elsewhere.

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