During the presidential debates, Volodymyr Zelenskyy told then acting head of state Petro Poroshenko: "I am not your opponent, I am your sentence." After a new guarantor and a new prosecutor-general appeared in the country, Petro Poroshenko became a defendant in as many as several dozen criminal proceedings.
And the ex-president said that he was not afraid of anyone, including his successor: "Volodymyr, my dear. No one is afraid of you."
But the further, the more experts suggest an agreement between the 5th and 6th presidents. Political scientist Andriy Zolotariov is convinced of this. Criminal cases against Poroshenko can in fact be a spectacle, and the new government does not plan to punish Petro Poroshenko.
"Poroshenko is beneficial to Zelensky as the only opponent, as his only oppositionist," said Dmytro Dobrodomov, ex-MP.
How exactly is Poroshenko beneficial to Zelensky? Why will all current criminal cases be frozen? And what should the previous guarantor and his entourage really be responsible for?
Petro Poroshenko appears in more than 20 criminal cases investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). From hooliganism to high treason. The courts and interrogations of the 5th president have already become a real show.
Political scientist Kost Bondarenko recalls: "I have already lost count of how many of these cases were opened against him. Because we had a wave when, in fact, almost every week, new and new cases were announced that were opened."
Together with the experts, we tried to figure out which of the two dozen proceedings could be brought to a verdict.
Poroshenko's suspicion was announced only in one case - the appointment of Serhiy Semochko as Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Service. The Prosecutor General's Office believes that by appointing persons under his control, Poroshenko sought to seize state power. However, it is almost impossible to prosecute for a personnel decision.
But the only thing where you can prove something is an illegal border crossing. In January 2018, the president flew on a secret vacation to the Maldives. Under an assumed name. He might be punished with five-year imprisonment.
Experts call Poroshenko's main fault the use of power for profit.
"If in 2014 he was number ten on the Forbs list, now he is the third. And this is not only because he has become rich, but also because we have an economic crisis and many oligarchs have become impoverished, but not him. Because he can use power for the sake of their own enrichment," said political marketing expert Serhiy Gaidai.
So at whose expense did Poroshenko and his entourage get rich?
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July 2016. Then MP Oleksandr Onishchenko flees from Ukraine, whom the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) suspected of involvement in the theft of 3 billion state hryvnias (106 million USD).
In Europe, Onishchenko began telling reporters about the corrupt deals of the then Ukrainian government and how he himself was a cog in the system. Some of the facts have really been confirmed.
In 2015, law enforcement officers accused then owner of the 112 Ukraine channel Viktor Zubrytsky of involvement in crimes against Maidan. And soon, at the request of Poroshenko, Onishchenko went to Zubrytsky and offered him to sell the channel in exchange for the closure of criminal proceedings.
Then another confidant of Poroshenko - the owner of the controversial Mykhailivsky bank Viktor Polishchuk - contacted Zubrytsky.
The parties signed a conceptual agreement, which clearly states that Zubrytsky is selling the channel, and all cases against him are closed.
"A strange conceptual agreement, but it was signed. The only point was that for the closure of criminal cases against me, I had to pay $ 7 million as a seller," Zubrytsky even received an advance. “I received several million dollars from Petro Poroshenko,” he says.
But the deal was ruined because, according to the fugitive, at the last moment Poroshenko wanted to lower the price.
Another large-scale corruption scheme, which Onishchenko made public, was about buying up votes of MPs in the interests of the Presidential Administration and paying hidden wages. “When we heard Onishchenko, a fugitive billionaire, who talked about how many millions he gave to Verkhovna Rada for certain decisions... Well, this only confirms that the practice of paying hidden wages existed,” says ex-mp Dmitry Dobrodomov.
In June 2015, Poroshenko decided to change the head of the State Security Service (SBU). However, there were not enough votes in the Verkhovna Rada for the dismissal of then-incumbent Valentyn Nalyvaichenko and the appointment of Vasyl Hrytsak. Onishchenko played the role of a negotiator between the government and the MPs. Parliamentarians were offered big money – each of them would get 200,000 USD. Dobrodomov has also received this offer.
Dobrodomov publicly announced the bribery, but not a single law enforcement agency opened criminal proceedings. And then a loud campaign began to discredit and resign Yatsenyuk from the post of prime minister.
Onishchenko was responsible for paid rallies against Yatsenyuk and custom-made negative materials in the media. As he himself later admitted, $ 30 million was spent on this.
In May 2016, Poroshenko decided to appoint a person without legal education as the attorney general.
In order for a person without appropriate education to become a prosecutor general, it was necessary to change the legislation. And again, people like Onishchenko, envoys from the authorities, ran around the Verkhovna Rada with suitcases full of money. And of course, enough money for appointing Lutsenko prosecutor general were found.
In July 2017, the NABU and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) opened a case on the abuse of power by senior officials and began to investigate the circumstances of Lutsenko's appointment as prosecutor general. But already in October 2017, the criminal proceedings were closed. NABU and SAP did not find corpus delicti. However, Lutsenko was appointed illegally, and the case must be investigated first.
"This is an abuse of power, official powers or abuse of power, official powers, and the investigation must react very harshly to this," the lawyer says.
When the president has a loyal head of the SBU, and the prosecutor general is an old friend, he can do a lot of different crimes without punishment.
Year 2014. Poroshenko wins elections and promises to sell the business.
“We are going to introduce a new tradition, and, as I promised, I will raise the issue of selling assets,” Petro Poroshenko said on the air of one TV channel.
Subsequently, the guarantor began to make excuses, allegedly, there were no buyers. And he said that he transfers the management of Roshen to a blind trust, stating that the requirement of this contract is to remove him from the company's activities.
In 2016, the world was stirred up by an international offshore scandal. Documents were released on how politicians from different countries avoid paying taxes. The then Prime Minister of Iceland was forced to resign.
Petro Poroshenko was also on the offshore list. It turned out that in the summer of 2014, while in office, he created companies in the British Virgin Islands. The journalists of the Slidstvo.Info program found out that this was done in order to minimize taxes. But the guarantor himself assured that the offshore company was not involved in money laundering.
By the way, some experts doubt that President Poroshenko did not influence the management of Roshen Corporation at all. An interesting set of circumstances. During the presidency of Poroshenko, the number of Roshen brand stores has grown significantly. In 2014 there were only 18. And now there are 71.
Poroshenko's confectionery business developed at a frantic pace because competitors were destroyed, says Ihor Boyko, the owner of the Zhytomyr confectionery factory. True, since 2016, he owns the plant only on paper.
"Just imagine: the owner of 97.5% of the shares is sitting in front of you. This certificate of ownership is valid today. I am the owner. And they do not let me in," says Ihor Boyko.
Several years ago, the factory was seized by the thugs for hire and security officials.
"So Poroshenko gave the order. Serhiy Pashynsky was the organizer of this entire structure," he is convinced.
The story, although complicated, is a vivid illustration of the domestic corruption reality. Since 2010, Ihor Boyko has had a corporate conflict with his former business partners. They accused him of raiding the factory.
At the beginning of 2016, Boyko's company, which owned the Zhytomyr confectionery factory, suddenly disappeared from the state register.
"We are out of the register. The enterprise does not exist. De facto, it operates, de jure, it does not exist," Boyko says. The factory is owned by former business partners.
And then unknown people and security officials entered the territory.
"When I looked out the window, and there were 400 National Guardsmen. All in gear. I have never seen anything like this. In bulletproof vests, with weapons. On the territory of the factory," he recalls.
According to eyewitnesses, stun grenades and pump-action weapons were used during the assault. Frightened factory workers ran through the windows. "Thugs for hire" began to destroy property.
“We invested $ 500,000 in the laboratory. We bought all the equipment. They destroyed it all, looted warehouses. They knocked down the windows, broke everything,” Igor says in detail.
"Now you are the owner. Everything is fine with you. You wake up the next day, and you already have nothing. Someone went into the register there, changed something, then a group of people comes with this document, the police support them and do nothing. They run in, break everything there. And oust the management, that's all. This is what they did with Igor Boyko," Vitaliy Kupriy, ex-MP, commented on those events.
Boyko went to court and proved that he was the owner of the factory.
“The court confirmed that I am the owner. After we received another court decision, we sent letters to all instances, to the SBU, to the Presidential Administration, to the regional administration, to the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs that on March 19, due to the fact that we restored in the register that everything is fine with us, we plan to enter the workplace, start working,” says Igor Boyko.
In May 2016, the workers of the confectionery factory tried to return to their jobs. But as soon as they entered the territory, they were attacked again.
In 2017, Boyko was accused of a raider seizure of the Zhytomyr factory and was arrested. But the case died out. However, until now, despite all the documents on hand, Boyko cannot get to his own factory. You may ask, why was it to Pashynsky, and what is the role of Poroshenko? According to Boyko, Pashynsky has been his business partner since 2010 and, through his relatives, had a 15% stake in the Zhytomyr Confectionery Factory. And when he came to power in 2014, he seemed to want more.
“He met with me and said: I want 35% so that we are equal partners. I let him go hang,” Boyko recalls.
Then, according to his version, offended Pashynsky came up with a scheme on how to squeeze out the enterprise. And he coordinated it with Poroshenko. Allegedly, Poroshenko was offered favorable terms of cooperation.
“30 percent of the output went to Roshen. He was also interested. To take our distribution in Iraq. Poroshenko invited Pashynsky and ordered to bomb the factory,” he says.
"This is a classic version of property squeezing. The same is the case with Pashynsky, who gained access to resources, to power," Andriy Zolotariov explained.