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21 Dec, 2021 19:53

Ukraine's Poroshenko talks war with Russia amid 'treason' probe

Ukraine's Poroshenko talks war with Russia amid 'treason' probe

A day after the Kiev authorities announced he was being investigated on treason charges, Petro Poroshenko, the former president of Ukraine, has revealed that he is in the Polish capital, Warsaw, discussing a “war with Russia.”

Poroshenko posted a video on his Telegram channel on Tuesday in which he reported that he had come to Warsaw with some of his staff to meet with European leaders. He said their discussions were “dedicated to forming a powerful coalition in support of Ukraine and against Russia, which, to date, has concentrated a military contingent of more than 100,000 on our borders.” He added that he was planning to return to Ukraine in the first half of January.

On Monday, the Ukrainian intelligence service accused Poroshenko of treason and of having financed and abetted terrorism. They announced that he was “suspected of acting in collusion with a group of figures including representatives of the top leadership of the Russian Federation, and assisting the terrorist organizations of the Lugansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic.”

Alexander Turchinov, a politician in Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party, told journalists the former president had been accused of buying coal from the self-proclaimed breakaway republics while in office in 2014 and 2015. Separatists in the two regions in eastern Ukraine – designated terrorists by Kiev – have been locked in a standoff with the rest of the country since the 2014 Maidan, when Poroshenko was elected president following the overthrow of the previous government, led by Viktor Yanukovich, who had served since 2010 and maintained generally friendly relations with Moscow.

“The situation was extremely difficult,” Turchinov said in reference to the decision Poroshenko had taken at that time. “Conflict was intensifying, and, in these conditions, the country’s leadership at the time could provide for its energy security.”

Last week, the intelligence service claimed Poroshenko had been evading the investigators who wanted to question him on these matters by taking refuge abroad. Representatives of European Solidarity said he was making planned diplomatic visits to Turkey and Poland, and that, after a short vacation, he would return to Ukraine.

Poroshenko was president from 2014 to 2019, when he lost to current leader Volodymyr Zelensky in a landslide defeat. Since then, Zelensky has been accused of cracking down on opposition figures and stifling dissent, including placing another opponent, Viktor Medvedchuk, under house arrest.

The former president’s attorney, Ilya Novikov, accused the authorities on Monday of having purposefully sought out his client when they knew he was abroad, so media outlets “close to the administration” could claim he had fled the investigation.