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Ukraine court freezes ex-president’s assets in treason probe

A Kyiv court on Thursday ordered the assets and property of Ukraine's former leader Petro Poroshenko seized as part of a treason investigation, the prosecutor general's office said.

FILE PHOTO: Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, Ukraine April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

A Kyiv court on Thursday ordered the assets and property of Ukraine’s former leader Petro Poroshenko seized as part of a treason investigation, the prosecutor general’s office said.

Poroshenko, 56, is accused of helping pro-Russian separatists, who control parts of two of the ex-Soviet country’s eastern regions, sell coal to the Ukrainian capital.

“The court decided to seize the suspect’s property” including real estate and his shares in a number of private companies, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Poroshenko, who is currently abroad and has vowed to return to Ukraine on January 17, has not yet commented on the court’s decision.

The former leader has denied the charges and said the treason investigation was orchestrated by the current President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ahead of the court’s decision Thursday, Poroshenko wrote on Facebook that he “will return to Kyiv” to appear in front of a judge “not to defend myself against Zelensky, but to defend Ukraine from incompetent leadership.”

Poroshenko is suspected of aiding the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in selling some 1.5 billion hryvnia ($55 million, 48 million euros) worth of coal to Kyiv between 2014 and 2015.

He would face up to 15 years in prison if convicted in the treason case.

In April 2019, Poroshenko was trounced in a presidential election by Zelensky, a comedian with no previous political experience.

Zelensky has pledged to root out corruption and investigate officials from the previous administration.

Although Poroshenko pivoted the ex-Soviet country closer to the West during his term as president, his critics accuse him of having failed to tackle corruption and poverty.

Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014. The fighting has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

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