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Poroshenko to Russia: 'de-occupy Crimea'

Poroshenko to Russia: 'de-occupy Crimea'
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Ukrainian presidential candidate-businessman Petro Poroshenko on Sunday paid his respects to those who died in anti-government protests in Maidan (Independence Square). He also mingled with the crowd.

He is favoured to win, and has the backing of opposition leader and former boxer Vitaly Klitschko, who has withdrawn from the presidential race.

Poroshenko spoke to euronews immediately following a joint briefing he gave with Klitschko on Friday.

Poroshenko said: “We are ready for significant compromise with Russia. We have one very simple pre-condition: ‘de-occupying’ Ukraine, to keep sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, to keep the independence of Ukraine. And that’s why Russian forces should go from the Crimean peninsula and Crimea should stay Ukrainian. And if it happens we are ready to give significant autonomy. We are ready to give a special status for Sebastopol. We are ready to provide special tax regime for the whole Crimea.”

Ukrainian troops staged a forced pullout from the Russian-annexed peninsula last week. Poroshenko stressed that their families, and the Tatars of Crimea, remain highly vulnerable there. He made clear that only its territorial attachment with all of Ukraine would be acceptable.

“We don’t accept any scenario of federalisation. We don’t accept and we fight against any separatist movement. We fight for the fact that Ukraine should be united: strong, powerful, economically sustained, and I think that we will have a first and very quick result.”

The International Monetary Fund last week announced a 14-18 billion euro aid package for Kyiv, three billion of which is for immediate release, to stave off default. In exchange, painful reforms will be required.

“This programme of reforms should be tailor-made so that no people, especially not poor people, discredit the reforms of the IMF. Now we see that the programme of reforms — even if it is quite a difficult question — is supported by the people. Why? Because this is a very direct, very frank communication with the people.”

Nicknamed ‘the Chocolate King’, Poroshenko is worth more than one billion euros, according to Forbes magazine, with a global confectionery, car and bus empire.