Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, declared wanted last month for a number of serious crimes, including high treason, has flown back to Kiev in time for a court hearing that could see him remanded in custody.
Poroshenko, who led Ukraine from 2014 to 2019, left the country last month around the same time a summons was issued for his interrogation.
He is being investigated over his alleged involvement in the funding of separatist fighters in the Donbass, in eastern Ukraine, through the illegal sale of coal. This, according to the law, is illegal, and he is subsequently accused of treason and promoting terrorism.
Another suspect in the treason case is Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the political council of the Opposition Platform – For Life party, the country’s largest opposition group in Parliament.
Poroshenko and Medvedchuk are the two main opposition leaders and the most significant political threats to current President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to Poroshenko, he is being persecuted for purely political reasons.
His arrival is thought by many to be a precursor to a showdown between the former president and Zelensky, who faced off in the 2019 election.
After landing in Kiev, on a budget flight from Warsaw, and successfully passing through passport control, Poroshenko left the capital’s Zhuliany Airport and spoke to gathered supporters.
He told the assembled thousands that he was not arrested at the airport due to the masses of people who came to support him, as well as the number of journalists present.
“In front of the whole world, [the security forces] showed cynical and irresponsible behavior,” Poroshenko said and dubbed the case against him a “challenge” to the whole of Ukraine.
Following his speech to the crowd, Poroshenko headed for Kiev’s Pechersky District Court, where he could be remanded in custody after officially being charged.