Detained Ukrainian opposition leader testifies against former president — Analysis

Viktor Medvedchuk outlines the alleged corruption schemes of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), has released a video where Viktor Medvedchuk, the Ukrainian opposition leader, testifies against Petro Poroshenko. He accuses him of privatizing fuel lines and doing business with breakaway areas of Donetsk or Lugansk while he was president.

Medvedchuk, a lawmaker and leader of Ukraine’s second-largest party, ‘Opposition Platform – For Life’, was detained by the SBU on April 12 after being charged with treason, as his party, along with all opposition parties in Ukraine, have been banned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for “collaborating with Russia” and engaging in “anti-Ukrainian” activities, such as opposing Kiev’s policies on Western integration.

The video was published Monday by the SBU. Medvedchuk claims that Poroshenko asked him to create a backchannel with Russia’s leadership. This was necessary to influence decisions at various agencies and institutions in order privatize Ukraine’s section of the Samara Western Direction fuel pipeline. It stretches across Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and westward to Europe. It was at one point dubbed the ‘Medvedchuk pipeline’.

“I started to work on the pipeline at the request of Poroshenko. If someone had said this was ‘Poroshenko’s pipeline’, that would have been more suitable. And it’s not because I now want to justify myself. In 2016, then-president Poroshenko turned to me with a request, taking into account my contacts and relationship with the leadership of the Russian Federation, asking to assist in the purchase of the pipeline or its owner PrykarpatZapadTrans,” Medvedchuk said.

He explained that, in order to privatize the pipeline and essentially make it Poroshenko’s property, a number of steps had to be taken.

“Courts, prosecutors, the Antitrust Committee, State property Funds – all these ruled in favor of president Poroshenko’s private interests,”The opposition leader stated that while the deal was supposedly worth $23 million to the ex-president, which he did through fictitious agreements, it earned its owners twice as much in just one year, up to $42 million.

As one piece of evidence that the pipeline actually belonged to Poroshenko, Medvedchuk points to the fact that all diesel transfers through the pipeline ceased in May 2019, right after Poroshenko’s term ended.

Medvedchuk also told the SBU that, in the period between 2014 and 2015, essentially all of Ukraine’s top leadership was involved in a scheme to supply Ukraine with coal purchased from the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR), which authorities in Kiev now consider to have been state treason, the defrauding of the state and financing of terrorism.

“The entire senior leadership of the state was involved in this (scheme): from the president and cabinet ministers, to law enforcement and the people, who were directly involved in making it all work,”The MP was arrested.

The SBU claims Medvedchuk gave all names of the senior officers involved in the scheme. This list includes former bureaucrats and central bankers as well as MPs and law enforcement officers.

Poroshenko’s lawyers have responded to these accusations by stating that the testimony of Medvedchuk has nothing in common with reality and accused the SBU of engaging in PR.

“In our opinion, in general, what the SBU does is exclusively PR. First, they should not be doing this. This should be taken care of by the SBI, State Bureau of Investigations. And the fact that this is being reported by the SBU confirms that there is nothing here to do with truth or law,” Poroshenko’s attorney stressed.

Former Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s dramatic return to fight 'treason' charges

In December 2021, Kiev authorities charged Poroshenko for funding terrorist activities and illegally purchasing coal from the Donbass. After having previously left the country, the former president returned to Ukraine in January to face the treason charges, which he claimed were politically motivated, and accused Zelensky of using them to distract the country from his administration’s failing policies.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Minsk Protocol, which was French and German-brokered, gave the regions that were separated special status in the Ukrainian government.

Since then, the Kremlin demanded Ukraine declare itself neutral and vow to never join NATO’s military bloc. Kiev maintains that Russia’s offensive was not provoked and denies claims it planned to seize the two republics.

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