Poroshenko returns “to fight for Ukraine”

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he is returning to Ukraine to fight the treason charges, even though he sees them as politically motivated, as he believes fighting them is part of his defense of national unity.

Poroshenko spoke at a news conference in Warsaw on Sunday, hours before his flight on Monday from the Polish capital to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, where he faces the allegations in court.

A prosecutor has alleged that Poroshenko was involved in selling large amounts of coal that helped fund Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014/15.

Poroshenko insists he is innocent and accuses prosecutors of his successor, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, of seeking to harm him politically to distract from Ukraine’s widespread problems, including economic difficulties and the growing number deaths from COVID-19.

It is the latest in a series of accusations against Poroshenko since his loss to Zelensky in 2019.

The allegations raised fears of anti-democratic score settling in Ukraine and also alarmed Ukraine’s allies. They come as Russia has been building up troops along the Ukrainian border and the United States has expressed concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be planning an invasion of Ukraine.

Poroshenko said he considers the charges against him harmful to the country at such a time.

He said the Ukrainian leadership was responsible for unity in the country, and what “Russia is really looking for is disintegration and conflict within the country.”

“I think this is a very irresponsible action by the current leadership to disintegrate the country and ruin unity,” he said.

“I will fight for Ukraine,” Poroshenko said, adding that he sees fighting the “politically motivated” charges as part of his fight for the nation.

Poroshenko, one of the richest people in the country, owns the Roshen confectionery empire. He traveled outside Ukraine, meeting leaders in Brussels, Warsaw and elsewhere.

The Kiev court has already frozen Poroshenko’s assets as part of its investigation into the high treason allegations.

Christi C. Elwood