The treason charge against former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appears to be a case of political persecution, Oleksandr Lemenov, the founder of the StateWatch non-government organization, told the Radio NV radio station on Jan. 17.
Poroshenko has been charged with treason and providing support to terrorists over what Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) alleges was a scheme to sign contracts for coal supply from Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, supposedly making “…Ukraine’s energy supply dependent on Russia and the Russia-controlled self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.”
“Obviously, this case has signs of political persecution, as it is about the (fifth) president, to whom the current government, in particular President (Volodymyr) Zelensky personally, is prejudiced against and hostile to,” Lemenov said.
“They are old political opponents.”
“There are statements from several European diplomats, officials (former or current), observers,” Lemenov went on. “(They get the impression) that Zelensky is much more concerned about the political persecution of his opponent than the situation in the country, when there is an escalation, (when there is a threat) that Russia will now invade and escalate hostilities.”
Poroshenko, who had been outside the country on what his representatives said was a diplomatic tour to Poland and Turkey, returned to Ukraine on Jan. 17 from Warsaw.
Later on the same day, Kyiv’s Pechersk District Court started a hearing on possible pre-trial detention measures against the former president. However, the hearing ended inconclusively, with the presiding judge pushing back a decision until Jan. 19.
Earlier, on Jan. 6, the same court ordered the seizure of some of Poroshenko’s assets, though notably not his media holdings, nor his key asset – the Roshen confectionary company.
The Poroshenko-founded European Solidarity opposition party have denied the charges against its leader, and accused incumbent President Zelensky of trying to repress his political opponents.
Poroshenko in turn accused Zelensky and businessman Ihor Kolomoisky of organizing and ordering the criminal case against him.