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Dormant conflict between Poroshenko and Zelenskyy comes to light

A long-standing conflict between the former president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and the incumbent, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, came to light

By: EBR - Posted: Thursday, December 7, 2023

Ukraine was scheduled to hold presidential elections next year and these would inevitably pit Zelenskyy against Poroshenko again.
Ukraine was scheduled to hold presidential elections next year and these would inevitably pit Zelenskyy against Poroshenko again.

by Georgi Gotev

A long-standing conflict between the former president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and the incumbent, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, came to light on Friday (1 December) cancelled, as Ukraine’s authorities stopped the former head of state from visiting the US, where he had important meetings planned.

Poroshenko, president from 2014 to 2019 who now heads the European Solidarity party, with 27 MPs in the 450-seat Verhovna Rada, was on his way to Washington when the Ukrainian authorities stopped him from leaving the country.

Poroshenko’s Chief of Cabinet, Kostyantin Yelyseyev, told Euractiv that with deep regret, he needs to inform Western counterparts that the visit “will now be impossible due to an artificial conflicting situation orchestrated by the presidential office at the border crossing of Ukraine”.

As Yelisyeyev explained, Poroshenko was on his way to Washington DC to take part as a speaker and honourable guest in the International Democrat Union Forum and to meet a dozen US Congressmen, including the speaker of the Congress, as well as EU high officials and many other important ,Western representatives.

He said that “acting unlawfully with the aim to make the visits and all the meetings impossible”, the Ukrainian authorities cancelled the travel permissions granted by the speaker of the parliament of Ukraine.

“Of course, President Poroshenko will seek justice in the court, and the case will be won for there are loads of illegal and voluntary breaches committed with just one aim – to shut the opposition up behind the martial law curtain”, said Yelisyeyev, who is a former ambassador of Ukraine to the EU.

The former diplomat said that such “undemocratic actions, detrimental for the political health in the country”, were “a clear signal to the international community on the state of democracy and parliamentarians in Ukraine, the state of the protection of the rights of opposition, as well as a blow to internal unity”.

The two politicians battled each other in the 2019 presidential elections, won by Zelenskyy with 73% in the second round, while Poroshenko obtained 25%.

Since Zelenskiy took office in May 2019, the country’s authorities have reportedly been harassing Poroshenko, raising dozens of investigations against him.

Poroshenko’s lawyers and his party have said that Zelenskyy’s attitude toward the former president illustrates what the West calls “selective justice” in Ukraine.

Poroshenko, one of the wealthiest men in the country, has reportedly spent millions of dollars of his personal fortune to help the war effort against Russia’s invasion.

‘Toxic behaviour’

“Against the background of the ongoing struggle for survival against Russian invasion and the need for demonstration of the perfect internal unity, it seems that the political hatred of the authorities as regards opposition is much stronger than commitment to democratic values and principles”, Yelisyeyev said.

Warning the West of “such toxic behaviour”, the diplomat advised the country’s euro-Atlantic partners to “stay focused on the state and the health of democracy in Ukraine”.

Ukraine was scheduled to hold presidential elections next year and these would inevitably pit Zelenskyy against Poroshenko again. However, all elections are technically cancelled under martial law that has been in effect since the conflict began last year.

As debate intensifies on holding a vote in 2024 amid the war, Zelenskyy said last month he does not believe it is the right time for elections.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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