In the shadow of rising tensions with Russia and the fear of an imminent invasion, an internal crisis threatens stability within Ukraine. This is after former president Petro Poroshenko returned to the country yesterday and will face charges of treason.

Poroshenko, who served as president from 2014 to 2019 and currently heads the European Solidarity Party in opposition, is accused of being involved in the sale of coal that helped fund pro-Russian separatist activities in the east of the country during his tenure. If convicted, Poroshenko, one of the richest men in the country, could face up to 15 years in prison.

Yesterday morning Poroshenko arrived in Kiev on a flight from Poland and was greeted by hundreds of his supporters at the airport. “We are here not to defend Poroshenko. We are here to protect Ukraine,” he read. “We must unite to show that Ukraine is strong and can withstand Putin’s aggression.” Poroshenko then proceeded to the court in Kiev, where a hearing was held regarding his detention to complete the investigation and trial. The prosecution demanded a bail of $ 1 billion ($ 37 million).

Demonstration of support for Poroshenko (Photo: REUTERS / Gleb Garanich)
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According to Poroshenko, who denies the charges against him, this is a political persecution by the current president, Volodymyr Zlansky, who defeated Poroshenko in the 2019 elections. In the West expressed concern that the rivalry between the two would only help the Russians. “All political leaders in Ukraine need to unite in the face of Russian aggression,” tweeted British Ambassador to Kiev Melinda Simmons. “It is important at this time not to look away and not be distracted from polarized domestic politics.”

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