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Ukraine's Poroshenko, from chocolate to nation-building

Ukraine's Poroshenko, from chocolate to nation-building
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Petro Poroshenko, age: 48.
Children: four.
Fortune: roughly one billion euros.
Nickname: King of Chocolate.
His mission: to win Ukraine’s presidential election.

A discreet figure during the Ukrainian uprising that ended the last presidency, Petro Poroshenko has quite a few of his pro-Europe countrymen and women convinced that he is worthy. Political experience: not much: he’s been a government minister twice, briefly, and an MP.

He’s an alternative face, delivering straightforward messages.

Poroshenko said in an interview: “It was born the new country. It was born the new people. In a very near future, we will ask our European partners to grant us EU membership perspectives, just because the Ukrainian people pass very difficult and very important exams for democracy and for European values. And the name of this exam was revolution; and the price we paid for these exams is very high.”

Ukrainians know him because he got very rich making chocolate. He has a degree in economics and an empire in confectionery, and some car and bus factories. His group Roshen is the country’s biggest sweet-maker and fifteenth in the world. He also owns TV channel number five, which carried a lot of both the recent revolution and the last one, in 2004.

Poroshenko even donated funds for the Orange Revolution. He was close to Viktor Yuschenko, who became president for one term, and made him foreign minister in 2009. Then he served in the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, as minister for economy and trade. But the changing colours didn’t hurt his popularity.

Boxer-turned-politician-and-recent-revolutionary opposition leader Vitali Klitchko even hung up his presidential election candidate gloves in Poroshenko’s favour. Poroshenko wasn’t on the intense Maidan scene for all its bitter duration. He may build on it, however, if he wins in the polls.

The self-made billionaire has had his trade run-ins with the Russian government. In a country where business elites are often seen as corrupt, the presidential candidate has called corruption the top priority for a modern Ukraine.