Vitali Klitschko Teargassed During Ukraine Protests

Boxing champion Vitali Klitschko was teargassed this past week during protests in the Ukraine, which the heavyweight champion took part in to show his opposition to a new controversial Russian language bill.

Police dispersed tear gas at protesters in Kiev, Ukraine's capital and largest city, on Thursday, July 5 in an attempt to break up the protesters. According to USA Today, police also used batons and more rounds of tear gas to subdue the crowd.

The reason for the protest was a new controversial Russian language bill, which mandates the Russian language be made the official language taught in schools and used in most government offices in the Ukraine.

Ukraine citizens see this bill as an encroachment on their sovereignty and their individual dialects from their much larger and more powerful neighbor, Russia.

Klitschko has become a highly nationalistic, political icon in Ukraine, forming his own political party, the UDAR, and announcing his plans to run for mayor in Kiev.

Photographers also snapped shots of Klitschko nursing a bloodied hand after the police clashes, sparking worry among sports critics who know he needs that hand to compete in further boxing matches.

The World Boxing Council then reported that Klitschko "suffered a gash to his right hand that required medical treatment during a protest against Ukrainian government."

Klitschko has previously expressed his wish for Ukraine to be more western, instead of becoming more soviet like its neighbor Russia.

"I have spent a lot of time in Germany, in western Europe, in the U.S. and I want the Western life standards for my country. Ukraine is a young democracy with huge potential, but it doesn't have those standards. I don't want to wait for changes in my country. I know what has to change," Klitschko told Sports Illustrated in February.

Klitschko retains the World Boxing Champion heavyweight title after a match in Sept. 2011. He is the older brother of Wladimir Klitschko, who also holds a heavyweight belt and is due to fight in Switzerland on Saturday.

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