Whoever’s not with us is against us, must be the motto of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government.
Opposition politicians are carrying the brunt of their authorities’ wrath: they have proven they disagree with the current powers-that-be, and that alone makes them guilty as charged.
Former president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko is the latest example: trying to cross the border from Ukraine into Poland, he was stopped and turned back.
The Ukrainian media, quoting sources at the State Customs Service of Ukraine, wrote the border guards reportedly did not want to take responsibility for deciding whether to let him leave the country. So, they didn’t.
Volodymyr Zelensky’s predecessor is currently facing treason charges in Kyiv.
Poroshenko was not trying to flee. He was prevented from leaving the country even though he had a valid travel letter from the parliament. The letter, signed by the Speaker, Ruslan Stefanchuk, confirms that Poroshenko is authorised to attend the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Lithuania, Ukrainian politician Irina Gerashchenko wrote on Telegram.
While technically still a member of the Ukrainian parliament, the current government charged Poroshenko last December with treason. He was allegedly involved in the alleged scheme to buy coal from the Donbass separatists in 2014-15.
Another opposition politician, Viktor Medvedchuk, was placed under arrest earlier, allegedly for committing treason in dealings with Crimea.
Medvechuk’s Opposition Platform – For Life had just surpassed the ruling Servant of the People party in an opinion poll at the time of his apprehension.
While opposing both of the Donbass (Donetsk and Lugansk) breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions, Poroshenko was charged with illegal trade in coal between these two republics and Ukraine.
Poroshenko, Ukrainian authorities said, is suspected of being a part of a conspiracy to purchase coal from the breakaway republics Donetsk and Lugansk, with the estimated worth of goods traded amounting to some 1.5 billion hryvnias (nearly $55 million). The conspiracy allegedly included unspecified “representatives of the top leadership of the Russian Federation,” the State Bureau of Investigation (DBR, Державне бюро розслідувань) claimed.
The current Ukrainian government considers the two breakaway republics terrorist organisations. That would mean that – if found guilty – Poroshenko could land behind bars for up to 15 years.
His ownership of the candy giant Roshen earned Poroshenko the nickname Chocolate King. During the 1990s, Poroshenko had put together a major business empire that includes shipyards and a TV channel. This outlet, he told the Washington Post, played a key role in the February 2014 Maidan coup d’état that ousted the elected President Viktor Yanukovich.
In the summer of 2014 and again in 2015, Poroshenko led “anti-terrorist operations” to crush the Donbass separatists by force. Both of these attempts would result in disasters for the Ukrainian military. Ukraine would then agree to a ceasefire mediated by Germany and France in Minsk.
Beset by scandals, Poroshenko lost the 2019 re-election bid in a landslide to Zelensky, who ran on a peace platform.
Zelensky’s government would return Ukraine to Soviet-era treatment of those who don’t like what the comedian-turned-politician is doing: as of May 1, 2022, his authorities have started at least 320 investigations of alleged treason, the Hindustan Times reports.
And that says it all. Ukraine’s fifth President Petro Poroshenko is stuck.