Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko is under investigation for treason, the State Investigation Bureau announced on Monday. Poroshenko, who leads the European Solidarity Party, stands accused of co-conspiring in a criminal scheme to sell UAH1.5bn ($55mn) worth of coal from the uncontrolled territories in the Donbas to Kyiv in 2014-2015.
The State Investigation Bureau suspects Poroshenko of committing treason, financing terrorism and supporting the activities of a “terrorist organisation” – in other words, the Russian-backed separatists that control the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.” If convicted, Poroshenko will face up to 15 years in prison.
According to the full text of the notice of suspicion, obtained by Ukrayinska Pravda, investigators allege that the scheme was orchestrated by “high-ranking Russian officials,” who sought to create an “artificial coal shortage” and then plug the gap with supplies from the “people’s republics” to help the separatists. Allegedly, pro-Russian lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk – who, as you likely recall, was charged with treason in May and placed under house arrest pending trial – drew Poroshenko into the scheme.
State investigators tried to hand Poroshenko a summons outside of the Verkhovna Rada last Friday, but he brushed them off and drove away. In a video released on Tuesday, December 21, Poroshenko confirmed that he’s currently in Warsaw, but promised to return to Ukraine in early January. The accusations against him “cross red lines,” the former president added.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, President Zelenskiy denied suggestions that the case against Poroshenko would affect the domestic situation in Ukraine.
This article originally appeared in FPRI's BMB Ukraine newsletter. Click here to learn more about BMB Ukraine and subscribe to the newsletter.