A landslide winner in last month’s presidential election, Petro Poroshenko has been outlining his priorities as embattled Ukraine’s
“Ukraine is now in a state of war,” he said.
“Ukraine now is the object of aggression. Every single night Ukrainian soldiers are giving their lives to restore law, order and peace in the eastern part of Ukraine. And me, not only as President, but also as the future Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, will try to do my best to defend the Ukrainian people, to bring security and to bring peace.”
Poroshenko supported Viktor Yushchenko in the ill-fated Orange Revolution of 2004, serving briefly as his foreign minister.
But the billionaire businessman has flip-flopped between both pro-Western and Moscow-backed administrations and later served – again briefly – as minister of economic development under Viktor Yanukovych.
Political in-fighting with Yulia Tymoshenko fractured the post-Orange Revolution government. In-house bickering is something Poroshenko is eager to avoid.
This time round, having thrown his weight behind the uprising which ousted President Yanukovych, Poroshenko has presented himself as the man who can save Ukraine from dismemberment and endemic corruption and turn the country into a modern state within the European mainstream. But he also hopes to ease relations with Russia.
The so-called ‘Chocolate King’, who made his fortune from the confectionery empire and retail chain Roshen, has pledged to sell off his business assets now that he is running the country. That is, all except his TV news network, Channel 5, despite criticism from the OSCE, amid concerns about a possible conflict of interests.
Poroshenko has a tough job ahead with challenges aplenty, not least taking on pro-Russian separatists in the east. Ukraine’s economy is also in serious need of help. And the new president will have to move quickly before his high-approval ratings inevitably start to drop once the post-electoral honeymoon is over.
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