News ID: 319466
Published: 0302 GMT January 17, 2022

Ex-leader Poroshenko returns to Ukraine to appear in court

Ex-leader Poroshenko returns to Ukraine to appear in court
EFREM LUKATSKY/AP

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko gestures while speaking to his supporters upon his arrival at Zhuliany International Airport outside Kiev, Ukraine, on Jan. 17, 2022.

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on Monday returned to Ukraine to face court on treason charges he believes are politically motivated.

At the Kiev airport, where he arrived on a flight from Warsaw on Monday morning, Poroshenko was greeted by several thousand cheering supporters. Some carried banners reading “We need democracy,” and “Stop repressions.”

A prosecutor has alleged that Poroshenko, owner of the Roshen confectionery empire and one of Ukraine’s richest businessmen, was involved in the sale of large amounts of coal that helped finance separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014-15.

Poroshenko’s assets have been frozen as part of its investigation into the allegations of high treason. The former leader of Ukraine faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Poroshenko insists that he is innocent. He accuses his successor, President Volodymyr Zelensky, of seeking to discredit him politically to distract from Ukraine’s widespread problems, including economic woes and rising deaths from COVID-19.

The charges are the latest in a string of accusations leveled against Poroshenko since he was defeated by Zelensky in 2019. The allegations have generated concerns of undemocratic score-settling in Ukraine and also alarmed Ukraine’s allies.

Poroshenko was defeated by voters following a corruption scandal and a mixed record on reforms, but he emerged with strong patriotic credentials for his work in rebuilding the Ukrainian Army.

Poroshenko has been outside of Ukraine for weeks, meeting with leaders in Brussels, Berlin and other European capitals.

Outside the Kiev airport on Monday, the ex-president greeted a large crowd of his supporters and delivered an elaborate speech, urging them to follow him to the courthouse. He called the charges against him “a challenge to all of us”.

 

 

 

 

 

   
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