Poroshenko case: what is former president of Ukraine charged with?
Case against Poroshenko in Ukraine
A court in Kiev has postponed the decision on a measure of restraint for the former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko until January 19. The former president and deputy, who returned from a foreign trip, was taken to court directly from the airport. Poroshenko is accused of high treason and collaboration with a “terrorist organization” for buying coal from the pro-Russian “People’s Republics” in the east of the country. He is facing up to 15 years in prison.
From the early morning of January 17, there were many more people at the Sikorsky International Airport in Kiev than usual. At 9 o’clock, Petro Poroshenko was supposed to fly from Warsaw on a Wizzair flight, the Ukrainian Hromadske television company reports.
At 7 am, supporters of the oppositionist began to gather around the terminal, and law enforcement officers cordoned off the perimeter of the airfield.
The Poroshenko-linked TV channel Pryamoy staged a whole telethon called “The Return of the President.” Journalists went live, first from the Polish airport, and then from the plane itself. On board, along with Poroshenko, were journalists from other media outlets, as well as deputies from Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party.
At passport control, Poroshenko was told that he had been summoned to the Pechersk Court of Kyiv for an 11:00 hearing on the measure of restraint against him. At the same time, his passport was not returned to him for a long time, because of which a tense situation arose for some time.
Many expected the arrest of Poroshenko, but this did not happen – the ex-president left the terminal building and addressed his supporters.
“I missed you very much. I really wanted us to meet like we used to”, Poroshenko said from an improvised podium.
Poroshenko came to court accompanied by his wife, deputies and security guards. Supporters were already waiting for him there. In his speech on the porch of the court, Poroshenko called on the political forces to unite.
“Only a united Ukraine is capable of defeating Russia and rebuffing the Kremlin elder, Putin. We are starting the process of uniting all democratic opposition forces”, Poroshenko said.
He added that the unification should take place among those gathered at the court. However, there were almost no opposition politicians there, except for Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party and deputies of a small Voice parliamentary faction.
The court session went on for several hours. The prosecutor’s office requested that Poroshenko be arrested with the possibility of posting a 1 billion hryvnia ($35.5 million) bail.
The judge went to the deliberation room, and after 5 hours announced the postponement of the court session to January 19.
What is Poroshenko charged with?
On December 20, 2021, criminal cases were launched against Petro Poroshenko under three articles of the Criminal Code: financing terrorism, high treason, and facilitating the activities of a terrorist organization. He faces up to 15 years in prison with possible confiscation of property.
This refers to a scheme for the supply of coal worth 1.5 billion hryvnias (about $ 53 million) from the temporarily occupied territories and assistance to “terrorist organizations” – the unrecognised Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in the eastern Ukraine, supported by Russia.
Poroshenko is suspected of contributing to the activities of the “L/DPR” by prior agreement with a group of people (in particular, representatives of the top leadership of Russia), and also of buying coal in the occupied territories using state funds. According to the investigation, by their actions, the defendants made Ukraine energy dependent on Russia and militants in the Donbass.
In addition to Poroshenko, Viktor Medvedchuk, a well-known pro-Russian politician, Rada deputy and godfather of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as former Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Vladimir Demchishin and ex-adviser to the Minister of Ecology Sergei Kuzyara are also involved in this case.
Viktor Medvedchuk and Sergei Kuzyara are now under house arrest. Another suspect, former Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchishin, is on the international wanted list.
The basis for accusing Poroshenko was the so-called. “Medvedchuk’s tapes” are intercepted recordings of Medvedchuk’s telephone conversations in which he discussed the supply of coal mined in territories not controlled by Kiev with the then assistant to Vladimir Putin, Vladislav Surkov, and representatives of the separatists. He kept mentioning that the “chief” was aware of this scheme and would contribute to its implementation. From the context of the conversations, it followed that they were talking about the former president of Ukraine.
Poroshenko’s defense argues that there is nothing illegal in buying coal from enterprises in Ukraine, including the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, although the president did not personally participate in this, since energy issues were the prerogative of the government.
After it became known that the case had been initiated, Poroshenko left Ukraine without waiting for the summons of suspicion.
Why is Poroshenko dangerous to the current president?
The BBC Russian service cites opinion polls, according to which the position of the former president is strengthening against the rating of the incumbent president, Vladimir Zelensky, who defeated Poroshenko in the elections in 2019 with an unprecedented result of 73% of the vote.
Thus, a sociological study conducted at the end of December 2021 by the Razumkov Center and the Democratic Initiatives Foundation showed that in a hypothetical presidential election, Vladimir Zelensky would secure the support of 24% of Ukrainian voters, while 16% would vote for Petro Poroshenko. But in the hypothetical second round, sociologists predicted that Poroshenko would win by a small margin – 50.1% to 49.9%.
Poroshenko’s team associates those trends with an intensified persecution of the former president. However, they believe that it is unlikely that the government will be able to “bring down” Poroshenko’s rating with the help of criminal cases.
In total, under the current government in Ukraine, about 20 criminal cases have been initiated, in which former President Poroshenko appears, but not one of them has reached court.