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16 Feb, 2024 11:56

Ex-Ukrainian president denounces travel ban as ‘offense to democracy’

Pyotr Poroshenko has been blocked from leaving the country to attend the Munich Security Conference this week
Ex-Ukrainian president denounces travel ban as ‘offense to democracy’

Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has slammed the Kiev government’s decision to block him from attending the high-profile Munich Security Conference (MSC) over alleged threats to his life. He labeled the ban an attack on democracy, Euractiv reported on Thursday.

Poroshenko was preparing to attend the three-day forum on European defense and security matters upon invitation the invitation of MSC chairman Christoph Heusgen.

“Obstructing our activities, including parliamentary diplomacy and challenging multi-party democracy in Ukraine, is an offense against democracy, against European values and against Ukraine’s commitments to the EU and NATO,” Poroshenko told Euractiv.

“One thinks he could make such decisions irresponsibly and with impunity. I could respond: It will not fly this way. No matter what, we will keep protecting our democracy and the international image of Ukraine.” 

According to a European Solidarity press service statement on Telegram on Tuesday, the decision to ban Poroshenko from leaving Ukraine was made after the head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (GUR), Kirill Budanov, told Ukrainian parliament speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk that the former president “faces mortal danger after crossing the border.” 

The press service cited Poroshenko as saying: “The only way to save Poroshenko is not to let him go abroad.” In an apparent reference to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, he added, “The whole world will laugh at you.” 

The reported travel ban is yet another episode in what appears to be a long-standing conflict between Poroshenko and Zelensky. Poroshenko lost the 2019 election in a landslide to Zelensky, who campaigned on a platform of making peace in Donbass, only to reverse course and seek NATO support for a confrontation with Russia. The former Ukrainian president is currently the head of European Solidarity, a small opposition party with 27 seats in the 450-member Rada.

In December, the Ukrainian authorities banned Poroshenko from visiting Poland and the US. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claimed that Russia was preparing a series of “provocations” to discredit Ukraine among its foreign supporters. In response, Poroshenko accused Zelensky’s administration of canceling his permission to travel and playing politics ahead of an election in Ukraine, which was scheduled for March 2024 but has been prohibited under martial law.