Politics

Ukraine ex-leader Poroshenko named in ‘treason’ probe


The authorities said they were investigating dozens of alleged crimes in which they suspect the 56-year-old politician might be involved.

FILE: This handout picture taken and released by the Ukrainian Presidential press service shows President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko leading a session of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine in Kiev early on 26 November 2018, following an incident in the Black Sea off Moscow-annexed Crimea. Picture: AFP

KIEV – Ukrainian officials on Monday named former president Petro Poroshenko as a suspect in a treason investigation, accusing him of having helped pro-Russian separatists sell coal to Kiev.

The authorities said they were investigating dozens of alleged crimes in which they suspect the 56-year-old politician might be involved.

The state investigation bureau said it suspected Poroshenko of “committing treason” and supporting the activity of “terrorist organisations”, referring to the separatists.

During his 2014-2015 presidency, Poroshenko helped the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics to sell some 1.5 billion hryvnia ($54 million) worth of coal to Kiev, the bureau said in a statement.

Poroshenko would face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Earlier this year, a Ukrainian pro-Kremlin lawmaker and a former energy minister were also named suspects in this case.

In April 2019, Poroshenko was trounced in a presidential election by Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian with no previous political experience.

Zelensky has pledged to root out corruption and investigate officials from the previous administration.

Although Poroshenko pivoted the ex-Soviet country closer to the West during his term as president, his critics accuse him of having failed to tackle corruption and poverty.

Now a senior lawmaker in a parliament dominated by Zelensky’s ruling party, he gave no immediate comment to the news.

His close ally, former parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov, denied any wrongdoing by Poroshenko. It was, he said, “another case fabricated on the direct order of the incumbent president”.

Poroshenko was currently abroad, but did not intend “to run away” from Ukrainian law enforcement, he added.

Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014.

The fighting has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Kiev and the West accuse Moscow of sending troops and arms across the border, something the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.





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