The war of Volodymir Zelensky against the old political class of Ukraine and its oligarchy enters a new phase. His Government has accused his predecessor, former President Petró Poroshenko, of treason against the State on Monday for doing business with the Donbas separatists, related to the supply of coal, in an alleged scheme that would also include Víktor Medvedchuk, businessman, leader of the opposition and closely tied to the Kremlin.
The State Bureau of Investigation and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) investigates, under the supervision of the General Prosecutor’s Office, “the creation of a criminal scheme for the supply of coal from the temporarily occupied territories and the aid granted [por Poroshenko] to the terrorist organizations of the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics for a sum close to 1,500 million hryvnia (about 48.6 million euros), ”according to the investigation office in a statement. “The fifth president of Ukraine has been informed of being suspected of treason,” he adds.
Petró Poroshenko came to power in June 2014, in the middle of the Donbas war after the flight of former President Víktor Yanukovych due to the pro-European Maidan protests and the annexation of Crimea by Russia three months earlier. The SBU details that a series of witness testimonies, forensic reports and other documents show that Poroshenko “used his power and influence” between 2014 and 2015 “to terminate the coal contracts with South Africa” and then, “at the request of mediators of The Russian Federation, signed on behalf of Ukraine agreements to receive coal from uncontrolled territories, which helped terrorist organizations to carry out their subversive activities against Ukraine.
The outbreak of war separated the mines in the Donbas basin from the metallurgical factories and power plants on the other side of the front. However, production did not stop. Trains continued to cross the contact line without interruption at least until the end of 2016 through the Yasinovátaya railway junction, the only link that withstood the destruction of the fighting, and the economic activity of the separatist zone, largely owned by man richest in the country, Renat Akhmetov, continued despite the difficulties of the conflict.
The SBU designates as Russia’s mediator in this plot the Ukrainian oligarch Víktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian opposition leader and close friend of Putin, who is his daughter’s godfather. In May of this year, the Prosecutor’s Office also accused him of high treason and imposed a house arrest on him. In addition, Kiev has also vetoed the media of the oligarch, who participated with Poroshenko in the Minsk negotiations in 2015 and is sanctioned by the US for doing business in annexed Crimea and allegedly financing separatists.
For its part, Poroshenko’s environment ensures that the coal deals were legal. His lawyer Ilia Novikov has detailed in a long statement published on Facebook that the Prosecutor’s Office went to the politician’s home on Monday hours before the announcement to summon him to trial on December 23, but Poroshenko was at that time in Warsaw to hold a conference. “This morning a body was found in the prosecutor’s office. It is that of Alekséi Simonenko, who has committed suicide professionally ”, ironizes the lawyer at the beginning of his statement when referring to the signer of the accusation. The lawyer emphasizes that “it is clear that the strategy consists of putting the names of Medvechuk and Poroshenko under suspicion together.”
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“There was nothing to steal because the coal was supplied at the lowest price, and Poroshenko was not there because this was the responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers,” says the lawyer. According to his version, the South African coal “cost 130 dollars instead of 90, or the 80 that DTEK paid later”, the holding of Ajmetov. “They try to get society to create the story of bad coal purchases by Poroshenko in 2014 when the deposits are empty in 2021, there is a total electricity dependence on Russia, and Zelensky and his entourage are surrounded by scandals,” adds the lawyer.
It has not been an easy year for Zelenski, who won the 2019 elections against a Poroshenko who was hit by the disclosure of the resale of Russian weapons to the Ukrainian Army by the son of the first vice president of its National Security Council. Two years later, the current president, who was previously an actor in the channel of the powerful Igor Kolomoiski, has denounced that a coup was orchestrated against him and has experienced the attempted assassination of one of his closest confidants, Serhiy Shefir. All this has happened in the year in which he has promoted an “anti-oligarchy law” to reduce their media and political power.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.