The defiant Poroshenko promises to fight treason charges – and Russia – POLITICO

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Petro Poroshenko, the former president of Ukraine accused of high treason, does not return – and he certainly does not apologize.

On the contrary, in a free-wheeling interview with POLITICO on Thursday, the ex-president said he was ready to fight.

First on his list is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, in Poroshenko’s words, is the “enemy of Ukraine … the enemy of Europe, the enemy of the entire free world.”

Following are the accusers of treason, which he alleges were brought as part of a political vendetta against him by his successor, and rival, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. “Bullshit,” Poroshenko said of the allegations. “Legal trash.”

And last but not least, the critics accuse him of putting his own interests above those of his country by pulling in Brussels this week and drawing attention to Ukraine’s internal political divisions, just like that. NATO allies have joined forces to confront Russia over its gigantic military build-up on the Ukrainian border.

“Timing is excellent – timing for the visit, for the call for unity,” said Poroshenko, speaking in English at a hotel near the headquarters of the European People’s Party, his center-right political family.

Poroshenko, who is now a member of parliament in Ukraine and leader of the opposition party European Solidarity, has resigned, saying he was pursuing “silent diplomacy” – meeting with members of the European Parliament and other contacts for advice on how to it can be the best. dealing with Russia.

In the interview, Poroshenko pointed out that it was Zelenskiy who undermined Ukrainian unity by allowing a political prosecution that echoes the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko by her enemy, former President Viktor Yanukovych, or the more recent imprisonment of former President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia.

Adding to the current controversy, the charges against Poroshenko were not signed by the country’s attorney general, Irina Venediktova, who apparently took one day off in December to not be held responsible for the case. The prosecutors – Poroshenko is accused of being involved in the sale of large quantities of coal helped by Russian-backed separatists in Donbass – were approved by a deputy prosecutor, Oleksiy Symonenko.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

“What I would like to say against the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian leadership is that national unity is absolutely essential at the moment,” Nuland said in a letter from State Department.

A senior European Commission official has expressed outrage over both current and former presidents. The official said Zelenskiy’s government was primarily to blame, but also called Poroshenko’s visit to Brussels this week “a desperate act by a desperate man.”

In the interview, however, Poroshenko said that nothing could be further from reality. He noted that he had already promised to return to Kiev next Monday, where he may have received a severe arrest, and even published his travel plans, on a commercial jet, so that journalists could accompany him.

Poroshenko, a billionaire who made his fortune from the Roshen chocolate company, used the hour-long interview to explain a fierce defense of his record as president, from 2014 to 2019.

“I am the leader of the opposition,” he said. “I am the leader of public support. I am the fifth president. I am the person who, fighting against Putin, and with my team saved Ukraine in the most difficult years of our history. I am the person who army made.And I am the person who [brought] Ukraine much closer to the European Union. I am the person who put the Ukrainian constitution, European and Euro-Atlantic integration in as the direction of our foreign policy.

Poroshenko also made the case that the current accusations against him were an attempt by Zelenskiy to block his participation in future elections, but also revenge by the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, a protector and supporter of Zelenskiy.

Under Poroshenko’s presidency, the government nationalized one of Kolomoisky’s most valuable assets, Privat Bank, then the country’s largest consumer savings bank, after investigators found enormous accounting irregularities.

Andrius Kubilius, a Lithuanian member of the European Parliament who met Poroshenko on Wednesday, said he hoped Ukraine would put aside its internal fighting to focus on Russia’s threat.

“Internal fighting is very dangerous for the country,” Kubilius said.

While admitting he did not know the details of the case, Kubilius added, “This is not the first time that in Eastern Partnership countries politicized justice has been used by ruling authorities against opposition leaders such as former presidents and prime ministers. Usually, when these countries start this kind of internal struggle, they forget about external threats and about their ambitions and reforms for Euro-Atlantic integration.

Poroshenko, in the interview, unleashed a fierce barrage of criticism against Zelenskiy, saying he had mismanaged the country and made virtually everything worse.

A spokesman for Zelenskiy did not return a call seeking comment.

But even as he attacked his political rival, Poroshenko insisted he would stand shoulder to shoulder with Zelenskiy against Russia.

“He’s just my opponent,” Poroshenko said. “But Putin is my enemy – an enemy of my country, an enemy of Ukraine, and I understand that Putin is now the enemy of Europe, an enemy of the whole free world.”

Poroshenko insisted he was making the right decision when signing the Minsk 2 peace agreements, which some analysts say Ukraine is sealing with impossible obligations. Poroshenko said a close reading of the agreement would show that it was Russia that signed clear commitments to withdraw its troops and weapons from eastern Ukraine and to allow Kiev to regain control of the regions before they hold local elections.

As for the criminal case, Poroshenko said he would return to the Ukrainian capital on Monday and defeat the prosecutors.

“I do not accept any form of politically motivated persecution,” he said. “I will fight and I will win because the truth is with me. If I was scared in 2014, I would never have stopped Putin. If I was scared in 2014, I can not beat two-thirds of the occupied Donbass. “If I was afraid of these oligarchs in 2015, I could not stop them. And, absolutely, I’m not afraid of Zelenskiy.”

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