Petro Poroshenko

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This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Oleksiyovych and the family name is Poroshenko.
Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko
Петро Олексійович Порошенко
Petro Porochenko au Conseil de l’Europe Strasbourg 26 juin 2014 04.jpg
5th President of Ukraine
Incumbent
Assumed office
7 June 2014
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Preceded by Oleksandr Turchynov (Acting)
Viktor Yanukovych
2nd Minister of Trade and Economic Development
In office
23 March 2012 – 24 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
Personal details
Born Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko
(1965-09-26) 26 September 1965 (age 48)
Bolhrad, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Political party Independent
Other political
affiliations
Solidarity (2001–present)
Our Ukraine-People's Self-defence Bloc (2002–2012)
Social Democratic Party
(Before 2001)
Spouse(s) Maryna Poroshenko
Children Olexiy
Yevheniya
Oleksandra
Mykhaylo
Residence Mariyinsky Palace
Alma mater National University of Kyiv
Occupation Businessman, politician
Religion Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)[1][2]
Signature

Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko (Ukrainian: Петро́ Олексі́йович Пороше́нко; born 26 September 1965) is a Ukrainian businessman and politician. He is currently serving as the fifth and current President of Ukraine.[3] Poroshenko 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, he headed the Council of Ukraine's National Bank.

Beyond politics, Poroshenko has had a career as a successful businessman. He owns, along with a number of other companies, a large-scale confectionery business, which has earned him the nickname of 'Chocolate King'.[4] He was elected president on 25 May 2014, capturing more than 54% of the vote in the first round, thereby winning outright and avoiding a run-off.[5][6][7][8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Poroshenko was born in the city of Bolhrad, in Odessa Oblast, on 26 September 1965,[10] but was raised in the city of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine.[11] He also spent his childhood and youth in Bendery (Moldavian SSR, now officially Moldova but under de facto control of the unrecognised breakaway state Transnistria.)[12] His father Oleksiy was an agricultural engineer.[2][13]

In his youth, Poroshenko practiced judo and sambo, and was Candidate for Honoured Master of Sport of the USSR.[13] 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.[2] 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.[2]

In 1989, Poroshenko graduated (he started the study in 1982[13]) with a degree in economics from the international relations and law department (subsequently the Institute of International Relations) at the Kiev State University.[14] In 1984, he married a medical student, Maryna Perevedentseva (born 1962).[13] Their first son, Oleksiy, was born in 1985 (his three other children were born in 2000 and 2001).[13] From 1989 to 1992, he was an assistant at the university’s international economic relations department.[13] 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.[13] At the same time, he was deputy director of the ‘Republic’ Union of Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs, and the CEO “Exchange House Ukraine”.[13]

Business career[edit]

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 specialised in confectionery (and later other agricultural processing industries) and the automotive industry.[13] 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.[13]

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.[13] His business success in the confectionery industry earned him the nickname "Chocolate King".[15] Poroshenko's business empire also includes several car and bus plants, Leninska Kuznya shipyard, the 5 Kanal television channel,[16] as well as other businesses. In March 2012, Forbes placed him on the Forbes list of billionaires at 1,153rd place, with $1 billion.[17]

Associated businesses[edit]

A number of businesses were once part of the Ukrprominvest which Poroshenko headed in 1993–1998. The investment group was dissolved in April 2012.[18] Poroshenko has stated that upon beginning his political activity he passed on his holdings to a trust fund.[13]

Early political career[edit]

Poroshenko first won a seat in the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) in 1998. He was initially a member of the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (SDPU), the party loyal to president Leonid Kuchma at the time.[13] Poroshenko left SDPU(o) in 2000 to create an independent left-of-center faction, naming it Solidarity.[13][19] In 2001 Poroshenko was instrumental in creating the Party of Regions, also loyal to Kuchma, but Solidarity never joined it.[20]

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council[edit]

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,[13][21] Poroshenko served as head of the parliamentary budget committee, where he was accused of "misplacing 47 million hryvnias" (USD$ 8.9 million).[22] As a consequence of Poroshenko's Our Ukraine Bloc membership tax inspectors launched an attack on his business.[13] Despite great difficulties, UkrPromInvest managed to survive until Yushchenko became President of Ukraine in 2005.[13]

Poroshenko was considered a close confidant of Yushchenko, who is godfather to Poroshenko's daughters. Poroshenko was likely to have been the wealthiest businessman among Yushchenko supporters, and was often named as one of the main financial backers of Our Ukraine and the Orange Revolution.[23] After Yushchenko won the presidential elections in 2004, Poroshenko was appointed Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council.[13][14]

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.[1] 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.[24] In response to the allegations, Yushchenko dismissed his entire cabinet of ministers, including Poroshenko and Tymoshenko.[25] State prosecutors dismissed an abuse of power investigation against Poroshenko the following month,[26] 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.[27]

In the March 2006 parliamentary election Poroshenko was re-elected to the Ukrainian parliament with the support of Our Ukraine electoral bloc.[13] 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.[25] 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.[13] Poroshenko started heading the Council of Ukraine's National Bank in February 2007.[25][28] Between 1999 and 2012 he was a board member of the National Bank of Ukraine.[13]

Foreign Minister and Minister of Trade[edit]

Poroshenko at the Russian-Ukrainian international commission meeting in 2009

Ukrainian President Yushchenko nominated Poroshenko for Foreign Minister on 7 October 2009.[28][29] Poroshenko was appointed by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) on 9 October 2009.[30][31] On 12 October 2009, President Yushchenko re-appointed Poroshenko to the National Security and Defense Council.[32] Poroshenko supported Ukrainian NATO-membership. However, he also stated NATO membership should not be a goal in itself.[33] Although Poroshenko was dismissed as foreign minister on 11 March 2010, President Viktor Yanukovych expressed hope for further cooperation with him.[16]

In late February 2012 Poroshenko was named as the new Minister of Trade and Economic Development in the Azarov Government;[34][35][36] on 9 March 2012 President Yanukovych stated he wanted Poroshenko to work in the government in the post of economic development and trade minister.[37] On 23 March 2012 Poroshenko was appointed economic development and trade minister of Ukraine by Yanukovych.[38] The same month he stepped down as head of the Council of Ukraine's National Bank.[39]

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.[2] After he took the post, tax inspectors launched an attack on his business.[2]

Return to parliament[edit]

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.[40][41][42] He did not enter any faction in parliament[43] and became member of the committee for European Integration.[2] 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.[44][45] In mid-February 2013, Poroshenko hinted he would run for Mayor of Kiev in the 2013 Kiev mayoral election.[46]

2014 Ukrainian revolution[edit]

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.

During the Euromaidan protests, between November 2013 and February 2014, Poroshenko actively supported the protest, including with financial support.[13] This led to an upsurge of his popularity.[13] He did not participate in negotiations between then President Yanukovych and the Euromaidan Maidan parliamentary opposition parties Batkivshchyna, Svoboda and UDAR.[13]

Poroshenko refused to join the Yatsenyuk Government (although he introduced his colleague Volodymyr Groysman, the mayor of Vinnitsa, into it), and nor did he join any of the two newly created parliamentary factions Economic Development and Sovereign European Ukraine.[13] During the 2014 Crimean crisis Poroshenko visited Simferopol, in Crimea, prior to its annexation by Russia; "We have to find a compromise," Poroshenko told a crowd gathered in front of the Crimean parliament, but his appeal was drowned by shouts of "Russia, Russia."[2]

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."[47] 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."[48]

2014 presidential campaign[edit]

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.[49] 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%.[50] 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.[51][52][53][54]

On 2 April Poroshenko stated, "If I am elected, I will be honest and sell the Roshen Concern."[55] 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."[56] He also vowed not to sell his 5 Kanal television channel.[57] On 14 April, Poroshenko publicly endorsed the campaign of Jarosław Gowin's party Poland Together of neighbouring Poland in this year's elections to the European Parliament, thanking Gowin's party colleague Paweł Kowal for supporting Ukraine.[58]

Poroshenko's election slogan was: "Live in a new way -- Poroshenko!".[2] On 29 May, the Central Election Commission of Ukraine announced that Poroshenko had won the 25 May presidential election, with 54.7% of the votes.[59]

Presidency[edit]

US officials Assistant Secretary Nuland and Ambassador to Ukraine Pyatt greet Poroshenko in Warsaw on 4 June 2014
Poroshenko with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel talking during the celebration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, France, 6 June 2014

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 Lugansk People's Republic and control a large part of the region.[57][60] 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."[61] He compared the armed pro-Russian rebels to Somali pirates.[61] Poroshenko also called for negotiations with Russia in the presence of international intermediaries.[61] Russia responded by saying it did not need an intermediary in its bilateral relations with Ukraine.[61] As president-elect Poroshenko promised to return Crimea,[61] which was annexed by Russia in March 2014.[60][62][nb 1] He also vowed to hold new parliamentary elections in 2014.[64]

Inauguration[edit]

Poroshenko was inaugurated in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on 7 June 2014.[3] In his inaugural address he stressed that Ukraine would not give up Crimea and stressed the unity of Ukraine.[65] 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".[65] He also called for early regional elections in Eastern Ukraine.[65] 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.[65] 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".[65] Part of the speech were in Russian.[65]

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[66][67] Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko was also present.[65][66] After the inauguration ceremony Tymoshenko said about Poroshenko "I think Ukraine has found a very powerful additional factor of stability".[68]

Domestic policy[edit]

Peace plan for Eastern Ukraine[edit]

At the time of his inauguration armed pro-Russian rebels had declared the separatist republics Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic and control a large part of Eastern Ukraine.[57][60] Poroshenko (after his inauguration) launched a peace plan envisaged for the recognition of the presidential elections in Ukraine by Russia, a cease-fire by the separatists (named "terrorists" by Poroshenko himself) and the establishment of humanitarian corridor for civilians ("who are not involved in the conflict").[69] Poroshenko warned that he had a "Plan B".[70]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Poroshenko’s peace plan "look like an ultimatum".[70]

First Lady of Ukraine Maryna Poroshenko met with Iryna Herashchenko, an envoy to the Peace plan for Eastern Ukraine to discuss possible assistance for people in the affected region.[71]

Decentralization of power[edit]

In mid-June Poroshenko started the process of amending Ukraine's constitution to achieve Ukraine's administrative decentralization.[72] According to Poroshenko (on 16 June 2014) this was "a key element of the peace plan".[72] 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" (communities).[73] 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".[74] He proposed that Ukrainian remained the only state language of Ukraine.[74] 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.[75] In case of an "emergency situation or martial law regime" they will "guide and organize" in the territories they are stationed in.[75]

Foreign policy[edit]

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

Russia[edit]

In June 2014 Poroshenko forbade any cooperation with Russia in the military sphere.[76]

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.[77]

European Union[edit]

The European Union (EU) and Ukraine signed the economic part of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement on 27 June 2014.[78] Poroshenko stated that the was "Ukraine's most historic day since independence in 1991", describing it as a "symbol of faith and unbreakable will".[78] He saw the signing as the start of preparations for Ukrainian EU Membership.[78]

Personal life[edit]

Poroshenko is married to Maryna since 1984.[13] The couple has four children: Olexiy (born 1985), the twins Yevheniya and Oleksandra (born 2000) and Mykhaylo (born 2001).[13] Olexiy is a representative in the regional parliament of Vinnytsia Oblast.[2] 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.[13] Poroshenko is godfather to the children of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko.[4][13] Poroshenko became a grandfather on the day of his presidential inauguration of 7 June 2014.[79]

Poroshenko is a member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).[1][2] Poroshenko has financed the restoration of its buildings and monasteries.[1] In high-level meetings he is often seen with a crucifix.[1]

Cultural and political image[edit]

Poroshenko on stage speaking to Euromaidan protesters on 8 December 2013

In Ukraine, Poroshenko is widely seen as a pragmatic politician who sees Ukraine's future in the European Union, but hopes to mend relations with Russia.[4] He is nicknamed 'Chocolate King' because of his ownership of a large confectionery business.[4]

In 2006, John Herbst, US Ambassador to Ukraine, described Poroshenko as a "disgraced oligarch."[80] Later that same year Sheila Gwaltney, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Ukraine, said that "Poroshenko was tainted by credible corruption allegations."[80]

Poroshenko has stated 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".[2] In early 2014, the Russian government-aligned television station NTV aired a film which portrayed Poroshenko extremely negatively and at the same time claimed that Poroshenko's father was Jewish and had been murdered.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The status of the Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol is currently under dispute between Russia and Ukraine; Ukraine and the majority of the international community consider the Crimea to be an autonomous republic of Ukraine and Sevastopol to be one of Ukraine's cities with special status, while Russia, on the other hand, considers the Crimea to be a federal subject of Russia and Sevastopol to be one of Russia's three federal cities.[60][63]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Volodymyr Khandohiy
Minister for Foreign Affairs
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Kostyantyn Gryshchenko
Preceded by
Andriy Klyuyev
Minister of Trade and Economic Development
2012
Succeeded by
Ihor Prasolov
Preceded by
Oleksandr Turchynov
Acting
President of Ukraine
2014–present
Incumbent