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UDAR lawmaker Pavlo Rozenko said Mr. Klitschko is a sincere politician, a rare find in Ukrainian politics. He recalled how Mr. Klitschko reached out to him in the summer of 2012 as he was expanding the party.

“The meeting wasn’t scheduled in advance, and I was outside Kiev. But Klitschko just said, ‘OK, I’ll come to you,’ and made a drive. I was pleasantly impressed about how it was OK for the party leader to just jump in a car and come meet a potential member,” said Mr. Rozenko.

The former heavyweight champion is also humble, the lawmaker said.

“He is never ashamed to admit that he doesn’t know something and to ask about it,” said Mr. Rozenko. “He is always willing to learn.”

But Mr. Klitschko also is a tactician who continually sizes up opponents and friends.

“I think it is a psychological skill he brought from his career in boxing,” Mr. Rozenko said. “It helps him choosing right people for his team.”

Critics say Mr. Klitschko was too quick to seek an agreement with Mr. Yanukovych after the bloodshed in Kiev, a move that could cost him support with the protesters in Independence Square.

‘New faces, new decisions’

Even so, Mr. Klitschko’s role as a moderate voice in a country where politicians often exploit cultural tensions has given UDAR broad appeal.

“He can unify Ukrainians to some extent because he knows the Russian-speaking Ukrainians. He made a statement on Independence Square, and he was speaking in Russian, directing his message to Russian-speaking Ukrainians,” said Serhiy Solodky, deputy director of the Institute of World Policy in Kiev. “Lots of people from different regions of Ukraine voted for him in the last parliamentary elections. We can talk about him as a unifying candidate.”

That style has given him good standing among Ukrainians who are weary of Ms. Tymoshenko and other longtime politicians.

“Ukrainians are tired of the old faces in politics,” said Mr. Solodky. “Ukrainians need new faces, new decisions, new ideas. They need a kind of dream politician, and Klitschko was a reflection of this dream. He was a reflection of a success story for Ukrainian citizens. That is why lots of people respected him, trusted him, and want to see him as a president.”

Protester Olena Dubovik, a Kiev student, agreed.

“I don’t have much admiration for any political leaders, but I think I would vote for Klitschko at presidential elections,” said Ms. Dubovik. “I like that he got rich in a clear legal way, not through some murky schemes like some other top politicians here.”

Still, Mr. Klitschko’s raw, straightforward manner sometimes backfires on him.

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