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Petro Poroshenko, the former president of Ukraine accused of high treason, has not held back, and he certainly does not apologize.
On the contrary, in a free interview with “Politico” Thursday, the ex-president said that he was ready to fight.
First on his list is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, in the words of Poroshenko, is “the enemy of Ukraine … the enemy of Europe, the enemy of the entire free world.”
Below are the charges of treason, which he insists were brought as part of a political vendetta against him by his successor, and rival, President Volodymyr Zelensky. Poroshenko said about the accusations “nonsense.” “Judgment Rubbish”.
Finally, there are critics who accuse him of putting his own interests at the expense of his country by rushing to Brussels this week and drawing attention to Ukraine’s internal political divisions, just as NATO allies were linking weapons To confront Russia because of its giant military buildup on the Ukrainian border.
“The timing is excellent – the timing of the visit and the call for unity,” Poroshenko said, speaking in English at a hotel near the headquarters of the European People’s Party, his center-right political family.
Ignoring disparagement, Poroshenko, now a member of Ukraine’s parliament and leader of the opposition European Solidarity Party, said he was practicing “quiet diplomacy” – Meeting with members of the European Parliament and other contacts to advise on how best to engage with Russia.
In the interview, Poroshenko insisted that it was Zelensky who was undermining 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 recent imprisonment of former President Mikhail. Saakashvili from Georgia.
Adding to the current controversy, the charges against Poroshenko have not been signed off by the country’s attorney general, Irina Venediktova, who apparently took one day off in December to avoid taking responsibility for the case. The charges – Poroshenko is accused of involvement in the sale of large quantities of coal that helped finance Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass – were approved by the Deputy Prosecutor General, Oleksiy Simonenko.
Poroshenko’s supporters pointed to comments by Victoria Nuland, the US undersecretary for political affairs, on Tuesday as evidence that Washington views criminal prosecution as the problem.
“What I would like to say to the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian leadership is that national unity is absolutely necessary at this moment,” Nuland said in a State Department briefing.
A senior European Commission official has expressed his displeasure with the current and former presidents. The official said Zelensky’s government was fundamentally wrong, but described Poroshenko’s visit to Brussels this week as “an act of desperation by a desperate man.”
However, Poroshenko said in the interview that nothing could be further from reality. He indicated that he had already pledged to return to Kiev next Monday, where he is likely to face imminent arrest, and has published his travel plans on a commercial plane, so that journalists can accompany him.
Poroshenko, a billionaire who made his fortune from the Roshen confectionery business, used the hour-long interview to vigorously defend his record as president, from 2014 to 2019.
He said, “I am the leader of the opposition.” I am the public support leader. I am the fifth president. I am the one who fought Putin and with my team saved Ukraine in the most difficult years of our history. I am the one who created the army. I am the one who [brought] Ukraine is much closer to the European Union. I am the one who established the Ukrainian constitution and European and Euro-Atlantic integration as the destination of our foreign policy.”
Poroshenko also made the case that the current charges against him were an attempt by Zelensky to prevent his participation in future elections, but also the revenge of the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, Zelensky’s patron and supporter.
During Poroshenko’s presidency, the government nationalized one of Kolomoisky’s valuables, Privat Bank, which was then the country’s largest consumer savings bank, after investigators discovered massive accounting irregularities.
Andrios Kopelius, a Lithuanian member of the European Parliament, who met Poroshenko on Wednesday, said he hoped Ukraine would put aside its internal battles to focus on the threat from Russia.
“Internal battles are very dangerous for the country,” said Coppelius.
While acknowledging that he does not know the details of the case, Coppelius added: “This is not the first time that the ruling authorities have used politicized justice in the Eastern Partnership countries against opposition leaders or former presidents and prime ministers. Usually, when those countries start such kind of infighting, they Forget about external threats, ambitions and reforms for Euro-Atlantic integration.”
Poroshenko, in the interview, launched a violent barrage of criticism against Zelensky, saying that he mismanaged the country and made everything worse.
A spokesman for Zelensky did not respond to a letter seeking comment.
But even as he attacked his political rival, Poroshenko insisted that he would side with Zelensky 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 now Putin is the enemy of Europe, the enemy of the entire free world.”
Poroshenko insisted he made the right decision by signing the Minsk II Peace Agreement, which some analysts say has left Ukraine with unenforceable commitments. Poroshenko said that a close reading of the agreement would show that it was Russia that signed clear commitments to withdraw its forces and weapons from eastern Ukraine and allow Kiev to regain control of the regions before local elections are held.
Regarding the criminal case, Poroshenko said he will return to the Ukrainian capital on Monday and will overcome the charges against him.
“I do not accept any form of politically motivated prosecution,” he said. “I will fight and I will win because the truth is with me. If I was afraid in 2014, I would never stop Putin. If I was afraid in 2014, I could not release two-thirds of the occupied Donbass. If in 2015 I was afraid of these few, I could not stop them. And certainly I am not afraid of Zelensky.