Petro Poroshenko

Petro Poroshenko
Петро Олексійович Порошенко
Official portrait of Petro Poroshenko.jpg
Poroshenko in 2014
5th President of Ukraine
In office
7 June 2014 – 20 May 2019
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Volodymyr Groysman
Preceded by Viktor Yanukovich
Oleksandr Turchynov (acting)
Succeeded by Volodymyr Zelensky
2nd Minister of Trade and Economic Development
In office
13 March 2011 – 4 December 2012
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov
Preceded by Andriy Klyuyev
Succeeded by Ihor Prasolov
9th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
9 October 2009 – 11 March 2010
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
Oleksandr Turchynov (acting)
Preceded by Volodymyr Khandohiy
Succeeded by Kostyantyn Gryshchenko
4th Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council
In office
8 February 2005 – 8 September 2005
President Viktor Yushchenko
Preceded by Volodymyr Radchenko
Succeeded by Anatoliy Kinakh
People's Deputy of Ukraine
3rd convocation
In office
12 May 1998 – 14 May 2002
Constituency Independent, Vinnytsia Oblast,
District No.12[1]
4th convocation
In office
14 May 2003 – 8 September 2006
Constituency Our Ukraine Bloc, Vinnytsia Oblast, District No.12[2][3]
5th convocation
In office
25 May 2006 – 15 June 2007
Constituency Our Ukraine Bloc, No.33[4]
7th convocation
In office
12 December 2012 – 3 June 2014
Constituency Independent, Vinnytsia Oblast,
District No.12[5]
Personal details
Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko

(1965-09-26) 26 September 1965 (age 53)
Bolhrad, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Political party SDPU(O) (1998–2000)[6]
PSU/S (2000–2013)
PRVTSU/PR (2000–2001)
NU/NSNU (2005–2012)
NASTUP/BOS (2013–2014)
BPP/BPP-S (2014–present)
Spouse(s) Maryna Perevedentseva
Children Olexiy
Residence Kozyn, Kiev Oblast
Alma mater Taras Shevchenko National University
Salary ~11,000, annual[7][8]
Net worth DecreaseUS$705 million (2019)[9]
Military service
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Branch/service Soviet Army
Years of service 1984–1986[10]

Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko (Ukrainian: Петро́ Олексі́йович Пороше́нко, pronounced [pɛˈtrɔ ɔlɛkˈsʲijɔwɪtʃ pɔrɔˈʃɛnkɔ]; born 26 September 1965[10]) is a Ukrainian businessman and politician who served as the fifth President of Ukraine from 2014 to 2019.

He served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2010, and as the Minister of Trade and Economic Development in 2012. From 2007 until 2012, Poroshenko headed the Council of Ukraine's National Bank.

Outside government, Poroshenko has been a prominent Ukrainian oligarch[11] with a lucrative career in acquiring and building assets. His most recognized brands are Roshen, the large-scale confectionery company which has earned him the nickname of "Chocolate King",[11] and the TV channel 5 kanal, an all-news national TV broadcaster. Due to the scale of his business holdings in the manufacturing, agriculture and financial sectors, his political influence that included several stints at government prior to his presidency, and ownership of an influential mass-media outlet, Poroshenko has long been considered one of the prominent Ukrainian oligarchs even though not the most influential among them.

He was elected president on 25 May 2014, capturing 54.7% of the vote in the first round, thereby winning outright and avoiding a run-off. As a candidate for a second term in 2019, he obtained only 24.5% in the second round, being defeated by Volodymyr Zelensky.

Early life and education

Poroshenko's father, Oleksij Poroshenko [de; uk; ru], was an engineer and later government official who managed multiple factories during the Soviet rule in Ukraine. Little is known about his mother Yevguenia Serguéievna Grigorchuk (1937–2004) but a Ukrainian newspaper said she was an accountant, who taught at a vocational and technical school of accounting.[12] He also spent his childhood and youth in Bendery (Moldavian SSR, now under de facto control of the unrecognized breakaway state Transnistria),[13][14] where his father Oleksij was heading a machine building plant.[13]

In his youth, Poroshenko practiced judo and sambo, and was a Candidate for Master of Sport of the USSR.[15] Despite good grades he was not awarded the normal gold medal at graduation, and on his report card he was given a "C" for his behavior.[16] After getting into a fight with four Soviet Army cadets at the military commissariat, he was sent to army service in the distant Kazakh SSR.[16]

In 1989, Poroshenko graduated, having started studying in 1982, with a degree in economics from the international relations and law department (subsequently the Institute of International Relations) at the Kiev State University.[17] At this university he was friends with Mikheil Saakashvili who he in May 2015 would appoint as Governor of the Odessa Oblast (region) and who is a former President of Georgia.[18]

In 1984 Poroshenko married a medical student, Maryna Perevedentseva (born 1962).[15] Their first son, Oleksiy, was born in 1985 (his three other children were born in 2000 and 2001).[15]

From 1989 to 1992 Poroshenko was an assistant at the university's international economic relations department.[15] While still a student, he founded a legal advisory firm mediating the negotiation of contracts in foreign trade, and then he undertook the negotiations himself, starting to supply cocoa beans to the Soviet chocolate industry in 1991.[15] At the same time, he was deputy director of the 'Republic' Union of Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs, and the CEO "Exchange House Ukraine".[15]

Poroshenko's brother, Mykhailo, older by eight years, died in a 1997 car accident under mysterious circumstances.[19]

Business career

In 1993, Poroshenko, together with his father Oleksiy and colleagues from the Road Traffic Institute in Kiev, created the UkrPromInvest Ukrainian Industry and Investment Company, which specialized in the confectionery and automotive industries (as well as in other agricultural processing later on.)[15] Poroshenko was director-general of the company from its founding until 1998, when in connection with his entry into parliament he handed the title over to his father, while retaining the title of honorary president.[15]

Between 1996 and 1998, UkrPromInvest acquired control over several state-owned confectionery enterprises which were combined into the Roshen group in 1996, creating the largest confectionery manufacturing operation in Ukraine.[15] His business success in this industry earned him the nickname "Chocolate King".[20] Poroshenko's business empire also includes several car and bus factories, Kuznya na Rybalskomu shipyard, the 5 Kanal television channel,[21] as well as other businesses in Ukraine.

Although not the most prominent in the list of his business holdings, the assets that drew much recent media attention, and often controversy, are the confectionery factory in Lipetsk, Russia, that became controversial due to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine (2014–present), the Sevastopol Marine Plant (Sevmorzavod) that has been confiscated after the 2014 Russian forcible annexation of Crimea and the media outlet 5 kanal, particularly because of Poroshenko's repeated refusal to sell an influential media asset following his accession to presidency.

According to Poroshenko (and Rothschild Wealth Management & Trust) since becoming President of Ukraine he has relinquished the management of his businesses, ultimately (in January 2016) to a blind trust.[13][22]

Billionaires lists rankings

In March 2012, Forbes placed him on the Forbes list of billionaires at 1,153rd place, with $1 billion USD.[23] As of May 2015, Poroshenko's net worth was about $720 million USD (Bloomberg estimate), losing 25 percent of his wealth because of Russia's ban of Roshen products and the state of the Ukrainian economy.[24]

According to the annual ranking of the richest people in Ukraine[25] published by the Ukrainian journal Novoye Vremya and conducted jointly with Dragon Capital, a leading investment company in Ukraine, published in October 2015, president Poroshenko was found to be the only one from the top ten list whose asset value grew since the previous year's ranking. The estimate of his assets was set at $979 million USD, a 20% growth, and his ranking increased from 9th to 6th wealthiest person in Ukraine. The article noted that Poroshenko remained one of the only two European leaders who owned a business empire of such scale, with Silvio Berlusconi of Italy being the other.

A total of €450 million is kept in an Amsterdam-based company registered in Cyprus, as a result of which his effective tax rate is 5% rather than the statutory tax rate of 18% in Ukraine. The company is likely to be worth much more, as the annual accounts published by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce only contain the book value of the shares, which is very likely to be lower than the market value.[26] After his election, Poroshenko lost the billionaire status as his net worth dropped by 40% to reach $705 million.[27]

Associated businesses

A number of businesses were once part of the Ukrprominvest [uk] which Poroshenko headed in 1993–1998. The investment group was dissolved in April 2012.[28] Poroshenko has stated that upon beginning his political activity he passed on his holdings to a trust fund.[15]

Early political career

Poroshenko first won a seat in the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) in 1998 for the 12th single-mandate constituency. He was initially a member of the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (SDPU), the party led by Viktor Medvedchuk and loyal to president Leonid Kuchma at the time.[15] Poroshenko left SDPU(o) in 2000 to create an independent left-of-center faction and then a party, naming it Party of Ukraine's Solidarity (PSU).[15][30] In 2001 Poroshenko was instrumental in creating the Party of Regions, also loyal to Kuchma; the Party of Ukraine's Solidarity having merged into the Party of Regions, Poroshenko launched a new party with a similar name, the party "Solidarity.[31]

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council

Poroshenko and Viktor Yushchenko during the meeting before Mukacheve mayoral election on 16 April 2004.

In December 2001, Poroshenko broke ranks with Kuchma supporters to become campaign chief of Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine Bloc opposition faction. After parliamentary elections in March 2002 in which Our Ukraine won the biggest share of the popular vote and Poroshenko won a seat in parliament,[15][32] Poroshenko served as head of the parliamentary budget committee, where he was accused of "misplacing 47 million hryvnias" (USD$8.9 million).[33] As a consequence of Poroshenko's Our Ukraine Bloc membership tax inspectors launched an attack on his business.[15] Despite great difficulties, UkrPromInvest managed to survive until Yushchenko became President of Ukraine in 2005.[15]

Poroshenko was considered a close confidant of Yushchenko, who is the godfather of Poroshenko's daughters. Poroshenko was likely the wealthiest oligarch[11] among Yushchenko supporters, and was often named as one of the main financial backers of Our Ukraine and the Orange Revolution.[34] After Yushchenko won the presidential elections in 2004, Poroshenko was appointed Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council.[15][17]

Poroshenko attending a U.S. Independence Day celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, 6 July 2005.

In September 2005, highly publicized mutual allegations of corruption erupted between Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko involving the privatizations of state-owned firms.[35] Poroshenko, for example, was accused of defending the interests of Viktor Pinchuk, who had acquired state firm Nikopol Ferroalloy for $80 million, independently valued at $1 billion.[36] In response to the allegations, Yushchenko dismissed his entire cabinet of ministers, including Poroshenko and Tymoshenko.[37] State prosecutors dismissed an abuse of power investigation against Poroshenko the following month,[38] immediately after Yushchenko dismissed Svyatoslav Piskun, General Prosecutor of Ukraine. Piskun claimed that he was sacked because he refused to institute criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko and refused to drop proceedings against Poroshenko.[39]

In the March 2006 parliamentary election, Poroshenko was re-elected to the Ukrainian parliament with the support of Our Ukraine electoral bloc.[15] He chaired the parliamentary Committee on Finance and Banking. Allegedly, since Poroshenko claimed the post of Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament for himself, the Socialist Party of Ukraine chose to be part of the Alliance of National Unity because it was promised that their party leader, Oleksandr Moroz, would be elected chairman if the coalition were formed.[37] This left Poroshenko's Our Ukraine and their ally Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc out of the Government.

Poroshenko did not run in the September 2007 parliamentary election.[15] Poroshenko started heading the Council of Ukraine's National Bank in February 2007.[37][40] Between 1999 and 2012 he was a board member of the National Bank of Ukraine.[15]

Foreign Minister and Minister of Trade

Poroshenko at the Russian-Ukrainian international commission meeting in 2009.
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in the Polish Senate with former Greek prime minister George Papandreou.

Ukrainian President Yushchenko nominated Poroshenko for Foreign Minister on 7 October 2009.[40][41] Poroshenko was appointed by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) on 9 October 2009.[42][43] On 12 October 2009, President Yushchenko re-appointed Poroshenko to the National Security and Defense Council.[44] Poroshenko supported Ukrainian NATO-membership. However, he also stated NATO membership should not be a goal in itself.[45] Although Poroshenko was dismissed as foreign minister on 11 March 2010, President Viktor Yanukovych expressed hope for further cooperation with him.[21]

In late February 2012, Poroshenko was named as the new Minister of Trade and Economic Development in the Azarov Government;[46][47][48] on 9 March 2012, President Yanukovych stated he wanted Poroshenko to work in the government in the post of economic development and trade minister.[49] On 23 March 2012, Poroshenko was appointed economic development and trade minister of Ukraine by Yanukovych.[50] The same month he stepped down as head of the Council of Ukraine's National Bank.[51]

Poroshenko claims that he became Minister of Trade and Economic Development in order to help bring Ukraine closer to the EU and get Yulia Tymoshenko released from prison.[16] After he took the post, tax inspectors launched an attack on his business.[16]

Return to parliament

Poroshenko returned to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) after the 2012 Ukrainian parliamentary election after winning (with more than 70%) as an independent candidate in single-member district number 12 (first-past-the-post wins a parliamentary seat) located in Vinnytsia Oblast.[52][53][54] He did not enter any faction in parliament[55] and became member of the committee on European Integration.[16] Poroshenko's father Oleksiy did intend to take part in the elections too in single-member district number 16 (also located in Vinnytsia Oblast), but withdrew his candidacy for health reasons.[56][57] In mid-February 2013, Poroshenko hinted he would run for Mayor of Kiev in the 2013 Kiev mayoral election.[58]

In 2013, the registration certificate of Solidarity was cancelled because for more than 10 years had not participated in any election.[31] Poroshenko then launched and became leader of the National Alliance of freedom and Ukrainian patriotism "OFFENSIVE" (NASTUP), which was renamed "All-Ukrainian Union Solidarity" (BOS).[31]

2014 Ukrainian revolt

Ukrainian opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, Poroshenko (second left) and Arseniy Yatsenyuk (right) with United States Secretary of State John Kerry (second right) at the Munich Security Conference, 2014.

Poroshenko actively and financially supported the Euromaidan protests between November 2013 and February 2014,[15] leading to an upsurge in his popularity, although [15] he did not participate in negotiations between then President Yanukovych and the Euromaidan parliamentary opposition parties Batkivshchyna, Svoboda and UDAR.[15]

In an interview with Lally Weymouth, Poroshenko said: "From the beginning, I was one of the organizers of the Maidan. My television channel — Channel 5 — played a tremendously important role. ... At that time, Channel 5 started to broadcast, there were just 2,000 people on the Maidan. But during the night, people went by foot — seven, eight, nine, 10 kilometers — understanding this is a fight for Ukrainian freedom and democracy. In four hours, almost 30,000 people were there."[59] The BBC reported, "Mr Poroshenko owns 5 Kanal TV, the most popular news channel in Ukraine, which showed clear pro-opposition sympathies during the months of political crisis in Kiev."[11]

Poroshenko refused to join the Yatsenyuk Government (although he introduced his colleague Volodymyr Groysman, the mayor of Vinnytsia, into it), nor did he join any of the two newly created parliamentary factions Economic Development and Sovereign European Ukraine.[15]

On 24 April 2014, Poroshenko visited Luhansk, at the time not controlled by Ukrainian authorities.[13] Just like previously in Crimea he was met by a blockade of hundreds of pro-Russian locals at Luhansk Airport.[13] Poroshenko later claimed: "When I traveled to Luhansk Oblast, my car was fired at and there was an attempt to take our entire group hostage."[13]

2014 presidential campaign

2014 presidential election percentage of vote for Poroshenko.

Following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and the resulting removal of Viktor Yanukovych from the office of President of Ukraine, new presidential elections were scheduled to take place on 25 May 2014.[60] In pre-election polls from March 2014, Poroshenko garnered the most support of all the prospective candidates, with one poll conducted by SOCIS giving him a rating of over 40%.[61] On 29 March he stated that he would run for president; at the same time Vitali Klitschko left the presidential contest, choosing to support Poroshenko's bid.[62][63][64][65]

On 2 April, Poroshenko stated, "If I am elected, I will be honest and sell the Roshen Concern."[66] He also said in early April that the level of popular support for the idea of Ukraine's joining NATO was too small to put on the agenda "so as not to ruin the country."[67] He also vowed not to sell his 5 Kanal television channel.[68] On 14 April, Poroshenko publicly endorsed the campaign of Jarosław Gowin's party Poland Together of neighboring Poland in this year's elections to the European Parliament, thanking Gowin's party colleague Paweł Kowal for supporting Ukraine.[69]

Poroshenko's election slogan was: "Live in a new way – Poroshenko!".[16]

On 29 May, the Central Election Commission of Ukraine announced that Poroshenko had won 25 May presidential election, with 54.7% of the votes.[70][71][72][73][74][75]

During his visit in Berlin, Poroshenko stated that Russian separatists in the Donbass "don't represent anybody. We have to restore law and order and sweep the terrorists off the street."[76] He described as "fake" the planned 11 May Donbass status referendums.[76]


President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and President of European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels, 2015.

When it became clear he had won the election on election day evening (on 25 May 2014) Poroshenko announced "My first presidential trip will be to Donbas", where armed pro-Russian rebels had declared the separatist republics Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic and control a large part of the region.[68][77] Poroshenko also vowed to continue the military operations by the Ukrainian government forces to end the armed insurgency claiming: "The anti-terrorist operation cannot and should not last two or three months. It should and will last hours."[78] He compared the armed pro-Russian rebels to Somali pirates.[78] Poroshenko also called for negotiations with Russia in the presence of international intermediaries.[78] Russia responded by saying it did not need an intermediary in its bilateral relations with Ukraine.[78] As president-elect, Poroshenko promised to return Crimea,[78] which was annexed by Russia in March 2014.[77][79][a] He also vowed to hold new parliamentary elections in 2014.[81]


Poroshenko was inaugurated in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on 7 June 2014.[82] In his inaugural address he stressed that Ukraine would not give up Crimea and stressed the unity of Ukraine.[83] He promised an amnesty "for those who do not have blood on their hands" to the separatist and pro-Russia insurgents of the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine and to the Ukrainian nationalist groups that oppose them, but added: "Talking to gangsters and killers is not our path".[83] He also called for early regional elections in Eastern Ukraine.[83] Poroshenko also stated that he would sign the economic part of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement and that this was the first step towards full Ukrainian EU Membership.[83] During the speech he stated he saw "Ukrainian as the only state language" but also spoke of the "guarantees [of] the unhindered development of Russian and all the other languages".[83] Part of the speech was in Russian.[83]

Poroshenko delivers a speech to the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg, 26 June 2014.

The inauguration was attended by about 50 foreign delegations, including US Vice President Joe Biden, President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Switzerland and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Didier Burkhalter, President of Germany Joachim Gauck, President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feldman, China's Minister of Culture Cai Wu and Ambassador of Russia to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov[84][85] Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko was also present.[83][84] After the inauguration ceremony Tymoshenko said about Poroshenko "I think Ukraine has found a very powerful additional factor of stability".[86]

Domestic policy

At the time of his inauguration, armed pro-Russian rebels, after disputed referendums, had declared the independence of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic and controlled a large part of Eastern Ukraine, but were largely considered to be illegitimate by the international community.[68][77] After the inauguration, Poroshenko launched a "peace" plan envisioned to garner the recognition of the presidential elections in Ukraine by Russia, consisting of a cease-fire with the separatists (named "terrorists" by Poroshenko himself) and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor for civilians ("who are not involved in the conflict").[87] Poroshenko warned that he had a "Plan B" if the initial peace plan was rejected.[88]

Poroshenko in Melitopol (2014)

In mid-June Poroshenko started the process of amending Ukraine's constitution to achieve Ukraine's administrative decentralization.[89] According to Poroshenko (on 16 June 2014) this was "a key element of the peace plan".[89] In his draft constitutional amendments of June 2014 proposed changing the administrative divisions of Ukraine, which should include regions (replacing the current oblasts), districts and "hromadas" (united territorial communities).[90] In these amendments he also proposed that "Village, city, district and regional administrations will be able to determine the status of the Russian language and other national minority languages of Ukraine in accordance with the procedure established by the law and within the borders of their administrative and territorial units".[91] He proposed that Ukrainian remained the only state language of Ukraine.[91] Poroshenko further proposed to create the post of presidential representatives who would supervise the enforcement of the Ukrainian constitution and laws and the observation of human rights and freedoms in oblasts and raions/raions of cities.[92] In case of an "emergency situation or martial law regime" they will "guide and organize" in the territories they are stationed in.[92] Batkivshchyna, a key coalition partner in the Yatsenyuk Government, came out against the plan.[93][why?]

He repeatedly spoken out against federalization.[94][95] and did not seek to increase his presidential powers.[96]

1 July 2015 decentralization draft law gave local authorities the right to oversee how their tax revenues are spent.[97] The draft law did not give an autonomous status to Donbass, as demanded by the pro-Russian rebels there, but gave the region partial self-rule for three years.[97]

On 25 August 2014, Poroshenko called a snap election to the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament), to be held 26 October 2014.[98][99] According to him this was necessary "to purify the Rada of the mainstay of [former president] Viktor Yanukovych". These deputies, Poroshenko said, "clearly do not represent the people who elected them".[100] Poroshenko also said that these Rada deputies were responsible for "the [January 2014] Dictatorship laws that took the lives of the Heavenly hundred".[100] Poroshenko also stated that many of the (then) current MPs were "direct sponsors and accomplices or at least sympathizers of militant-separatists".[100]

Poroshenko had pressed for the elections since his victory in the May 2014 presidential election.[101][102][103]

On 27 August 2014, the party congress of All-Ukrainian Party of Peace and Unity adopted a new name: "Petro Poroshenko Bloc" (BPP).[104][31][105] In 2015, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc was renamed in "Petro Poroshenko Bloc "Solidarity"".[106]

On 13 December 2014, Poroshenko stated that he did not want Ukraine to become a nuclear power again.[107]

Petro Poroshenko in Poltava (2016)

On 15 May 2015, Poroshenko signed a bill into law that started a six months period for the removal of communist monuments and the mandatory renaming of streets and other public places and settlements with a name related to Communism.[108] According to Poroshenko "I did what I had to"; adding "Ukraine as a state has done its job, then historians should work, while the government should take care of the future".[108] Poroshenko believes that the communist repression and holodomor of the Soviet Union are on par with the Nazi crimes of the 1940s.[109] The legislation (Poroshenko signed on 15 May 2015) also provides "public recognition to anyone who fought for Ukrainian independence in the 20th century",[110] including the controversial Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) combatants led by Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera.[108]

Poroshenko said in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper that "If I am elected, I'll wipe the slate clean and will sell the Roshen concern. As president of Ukraine, I will and want to only focus on the well-being of the nation."[111]

On 23 March 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accepted the resignation of billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky as governor of Dnipro region over the control of oil companies.[112] "There will be no more oligarchs in Ukraine," Poroshenko said adding that "oligarchs must pay more [taxes] than the middle class and more than small business." The president underscored that "the program of de-oligarchization will be put into life". Poroshenko promised that he will fight against the Ukrainian oligarchs.[113]

In December 2018, President Poroshenko confirmed the status of veterans and combatants for independence of Ukraine for the armed units of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).[114]

On September 25, 2017, a new law on education was signed by President Poroshenko (draft approved by Rada on September 5, 2017) which says that the Ukrainian language is the language of education at all levels except for one or more subjects that are allowed to be taught in two or more languages, namely English or one of the other official languages of the European Union. The law stipulates a 3-year transitional period to come in full effect.[115][116] In February 2018 this period was extended until 2023.[117] The law was condemned by PACE that called it "a major impediment to the teaching of national minorities".[118] The law also faced criticism from officials in Hungary, Romania and Russia.[119] (Hungarian and Romanian are official languages of the European Union, Russian is not.[120][121]) Ukrainian officials stressed that the new law complies fully with European norms on minority rights.[122]

Poroshenko signing the law "On provision of the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the State language".

The law does state that "Persons belonging to indigenous peoples of Ukraine are guaranteed the right to study in public facilities of preschool and primary education in the language of instruction of the respective indigenous people, along with the state language of instruction" in separate classes or groups.[116] PACE describes this as a significant curtailing of the rights of indigenous peoples carried out without consultations with their representatives.[118] On 27 June 2018 Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin stated that following the recommendation of the Venice Commission the language provision of the (September 2017) law on education will not apply to private schools and that every public school for national minorities "will have broad powers to independently determine which classes will be taught in Ukrainian or their native language."[123][124] On 15 May 2019, Poroshenko signed the law "On provision of the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the State language"[125][126]

Corruption in Ukraine is a widespread problem in Ukraine; although there are signs that during Poroshenko presidency it decreased (thanks to the Prozorro digital system).[127] Poroshenko has signed a decree to create the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine to comply with the requirements of the International Monetary Fund. Since 2015, the Bureau has sent 189 cases to court, but no one significant was convicted. The head of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office reportedly coached suspects on how to avoid corruption charges.[128]

A November 2018 EU Commission report praised some of Ukraine's reforms during Poroshenko's presidency, such as in healthcare, pensions and public administration.[129] But judicial reforms were too slow, the report claimed, and "there have been only few convictions in high-level corruption cases so far".[129] It also stated that too often attacks on civil society activists went unpunished.[129]

During Poroshenko's 2019 campaign for reelection a major scandal broke out in which business partners (but not Poroshenko himself) of Poroshenko were accused of smuggling Russian components to Ukrainian defense factories at wildly inflated prices.[130][129]

Critics of Poroshenko have pointed out that he removed jurisdiction of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine over records about off-the books payments to Paul J. Manafort who lobbied on behalf of former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and served as campaign manager for Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.[131]. Moreover, Poroshenko stripped of Ukrainian citizenship Mikheil Saakashvili who criticized him for not fighting Ukrainian corruption.[132]

On 11 April 2019, the High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine was established and Poroshenko signed the decree appointing the judges during a official ceremony.[133]

Foreign policy

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Poroshenko, June 2014.

On 7 December 2015, Poroshenko had a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Kiev to discuss Ukrainian-American cooperation.[134] He met Donald Trump in June 2017; the BBC falsely accused him of paying Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen between 400,000 and 600,000 dollars to organize this meeting.[135][136] The BBC ended up having to state the allegation was untrue, apologizing to Poroshenko, deleting the article from its website, paying legal costs, and paying damages to Poroshenko.[137][138]

In June 2014, Poroshenko forbade any cooperation with Russia in the military sphere.[139]

At the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 26 June 2014 Poroshenko stated that bilateral relations with Russia cannot be normalized unless Russia undoes its unilateral annexation of Crimea and returns its control of Crimea to Ukraine.[140]

On Poroshenko's June 2014 Peace plan for Eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented "it looks like an ultimatum".[88]

On 26 August 2014, Poroshenko met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk where Putin called on Ukraine not to escalate its offensive. Poroshenko responded by demanding Russia halt its supplying of arms to separatist fighters. He said his country wanted a political compromise and promised the interests of Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine would be considered.[141]

Poroshenko with Angela Merkel and Joe Biden, 7 February 2015.

The European Union (EU) and Ukraine signed the economic part of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement on 27 June 2014.[142] Poroshenko stated that the day was "Ukraine's most historic day since independence in 1991", describing it as a "symbol of faith and unbreakable will".[142] He saw the signing as the start of preparations for Ukrainian EU Membership.[142]

At his speech at the opening session of the new parliament on 27 November 2014, Poroshenko stated "we've decided to return to the course of NATO integration" because "the nonalignment status of Ukraine proclaimed in 2010 couldn't guarantee our security and territorial integrity".[143] The Ukrainian parliament on 23 December 2014 voted 303 to 8 to repeal a 2010 bill that had made Ukraine a non-aligned state in a bill submitted by Poroshenko.[144] On 29 December 2014 Poroshenko vowed to hold a referendum on joining NATO.[145] On 22 September 2015 Poroshenko claimed that "Russia's aggressive actions" proved need for the enlargement of NATO and that the Ukrainian referendum on joining NATO would be held after "every condition for the Ukrainian compliance with NATO membership criteria" was met by "reforming our country".[146]

President of Ukraine Petro Porosenko with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, Belgrade July 2018

On 2 February 2017, in an interview with Funke Mediengruppe, Poroshenko announced he was planning a referendum on whether Ukraine should join NATO.[147]

Poroshenko was criticized by Committee to Protect Journalists for signing a decree which banned 41 international journalists and bloggers from entering Ukraine for one year, being labeled as threats to national security.[148] The list includes three BBC journalists, and two Spanish journalists currently missing in Syria, all of whom previously covered the Ukraine crisis.[149]

Panama Papers

Poroshenko set up an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands during the peak of the war in Donbass.[150] Leaked documents from the Panama Papers show that Poroshenko registered the company, Prime Asset Partners Ltd, on 21 August 2014. Records in Cyprus show him as the firm's only shareholder.[151] He said that he had done nothing wrong, and the legal firm, Avellum, overseeing the sale of Roshen, Poroshenko's confectionery company, said that "any allegations of tax evasion are groundless". The anti-corruption group Transparency International believes that the "creation of businesses while serving as president is a direct violation of the constitution".[152]

His name was cited in the list of politicians named in "Paradise Papers" allegations.[153]

Personal life

Maryna Poroshenko (in blue) with some of the couple's children on Ukraine's 27th Independence day

Poroshenko has been married to Maryna since 1984.[15] The couple have four children: Olexiy (born 1985), the twins Yevheniya and Oleksandra (born 2000) and Mykhailo (born 2001).[15] Olexiy was a representative in the regional parliament of Vinnytsia Oblast.[16] In November 2014, he became People's Deputy of Ukraine.[154] Maryna Poroshenko is a cardiologist, who does not take part in public life, apart from her participation in the activities of the Petro Poroshenko Charity Foundation.[15] Poroshenko became a grandfather on the day of his presidential inauguration of 7 June 2014.[155]

Poroshenko, Metropolitan Epiphanius and Andriy Parubiy after the unification council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on 15 December 2018

Poroshenko is a member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.[35][16] Poroshenko has financed the restoration of its buildings and monasteries.[35] In high-level meetings he is often seen with a crucifix.[35]

Poroshenko speaks fluent Ukrainian, Russian, English and Romanian.[156]

Petro Poroshenko is diabetic.[157]

Cultural and political image

Poroshenko on stage speaking to Euromaidan protesters on 8 December 2013.

Poroshenko has been nicknamed "Chocolate King" because of his ownership of a large confectionery business.[11] Poroshenko objected to being called an oligarch, stating that "Oligarchs are people who seek power in order to further enrich themselves. But I have long fought against bandits who are robbing our country and have destroyed free enterprise".[16]

After promising during his election campaign to sell his business assets when elected as the president of Ukraine, according to Poroshenko and Rothschild Wealth Management & Trust, since becoming President of Ukraine, he has relinquished the management of his businesses, ultimately (in January 2016) to a blind trust.[13][22]

Potential implementation of martial law

During his speeches Petro Poroshenko on numerous occasions has called the war in East Ukraine a "Patriotic War",[158][159][160] yet did not initiate implementation of martial law, for which he was criticized on numerous occasions by politicians and the general public.[161][162] Poroshenko noted that it is necessary to realize the consequences of martial law for the country:

  • it will restrict the supply of weaponry and items of dual assignment;
  • the IMF won't provide funds to countries that are in war.[163]

A month later the last statement was refuted by a head of the IMF Ukrainian branch Jerome Vacher, "As for the possible introduction of martial law, the IMF has no formal legal restrictions that impede continuation of mutual cooperation under such conditions. We have already worked with a number of countries where war conflicts of various intensity unfolded".[164]

On 5 February 2015, in his interview with the Spanish El Pais, Poroshenko stated that he will introduce martial law in the case of an escalation of the situation in Donbas, but that that decision will limit democracy and liberties as well as threaten the development of the economy.[165][166]

Martial law in Ukraine was introduced for 30 days in late November 2018, after the Kerch Strait incident.[167]

Connections with Dmytro Firtash

In April 2015, Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash at a court session about his extradition to the United States stated that at the Ukrainian presidential election he financially supported Poroshenko,[168] and Vitali Klitchko in the Kiev city mayoral election.[168]

Mikheil Saakashvili

On 29 May 2015, Poroshenko invited former President of Georgia and his friend Mikheil Saakashvili to help with conducting reforms in the Ukraine and granted him Ukrainian citizenship.[169] The very next day after receiving citizenship on 30 May 2015, Saakashvili was appointed by the president as head (governor) of the Odessa Regional State Administration (see Governor of Odessa Oblast).[170]. However, on 26 July 2017 Poroshenko issued a decree[nb 1] stripping Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship, without providing any reason. According to The Economist, most observers saw Poroshenko's stripping Saakashvili of his citizenship "simply as the sidelining of a political rival" (Saakashvili started a political party Movement of New Forces to participate in upcoming elections).[172][173]

New year vacationing (2018)

In January 2018, journalists from Radio Free Europe reported that during Poroshenko's New Year's vacation starting 1 January 2018 on the Maldives, there were ten people who spent $500,000 to rent separate islands and the most expensive hotel in the country.[174][175] On 30 March 2018, Poroshenko submitted his income declaration. Poroshenko declared that he spent between 1.3 and 1.4 million UAH on this vacation – two times less than journalists had reported (some details about the president's vacation were classified).[176][175]