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Ex-president attempts to leave Ukraine

Former president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko tried to cross the border into Poland on Friday, Ukrainian media reported citing the state customs service sources. Volodymyr Zelensky’s predecessor is currently facing treason charges in Kiev.

Poroshenko showed up at the Rava-Ruska crossing, west of Lvov, in his Range Rover SUV on Friday evening, Ukrainian National News (UNN) and Ukrainskaya Pravda said, citing sources at the State Customs Service of Ukraine. The border guards stationed there reportedly did not want to take responsibility for deciding whether to let him leave the country. However, there was no official confirmation from the border service.

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Photos posted on Telegram showed someone looking like Poroshenko talking with several customs agents. 

“This is a political order that looks disgusting,” Ukrainian politician Irina Gerashchenko wrote on Telegram, noting that Poroshenko was prevented from leaving the country even though he had a valid travel letter from the parliament to attend the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Lithuania.

READ MORE: Detained Ukrainian opposition leader testifies against ex-president

Poroshenko is technically still a member of the Ukrainian parliament. In December 2021, the current government charged him with treason in the alleged scheme to buy coal from the Donbass separatists in 2014-15. He traveled to Turkey as the charges were announced, but made a show of returning to Kiev in January. A court then refused the government’s request to put him in jail, or even under house arrest.

Known as the “Chocolate King,” thanks to his ownership of the candy giant Roshen, Poroshenko had accumulated a substantial business empire in Ukraine during the 1990s, including shipyards and a TV channel. The TV channel, he would later tell the Washington Post, played a key role in the February 2014 Maidan uprising that ousted the elected President Viktor Yanukovich.

READ MORE: Former Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s dramatic return to fight ‘treason’ charges

Poroshenko, who previously did brief stints as trade and foreign minister under governments led by politicians from western Ukraine, found himself the establishment candidate in the May 2014 presidential election. As president, he led the “anti-terrorist operation” to crush the Donbass separatists by force in the summer of 2014 and again in early 2015. Both attempts ended in disaster for the Ukrainian military, with Kiev agreeing to a ceasefire mediated in Minsk. Beset by scandals, Poroshenko lost the 2019 re-election bid in a landslide to Zelensky, who ran on a peace platform.

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