Kyiv Court Leaves Poroshenko's Pretrial Restrictions Unchanged

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

KYIV -- A court in Kyiv has upheld a decision to allow former President Petro Poroshenko to remain free during a treason case that he and his supporters reject as politically motivated.

The Court of Appeals in the Ukrainian capital on February 11 upheld last month's decision by the Pechera district court that Poroshenko not be held in custody while the case against him is investigated.

The court ruled at the time that Poroshenko did not need to be remanded in custody, though he should appear before prosecutors and investigators when requested to do so. Poroshenko was also ordered to stay in Kyiv and had to hand over his passport.

The ruling was appealed by both the presidential office, which sought Poroshenko's arrest, and by the former president's lawyers who demanded the lifting of all pretrial restrictions.

The case against Poroshenko, one of the richest men in Ukraine, has caused international concern, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken appealing to Ukrainians to “stick together” as the country “faces the possibility of renewed Russian aggression."

The accusations against Poroshenko are linked to the alleged sale of coal to help finance Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014-15, while he was in office.

The billionaire businessman has already had his assets frozen as part of the investigation. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Poroshenko, who is now a lawmaker and the leader of the opposition European Solidarity party, accuses his successor, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, of political persecution.

The former president and his supporters say the case was cooked up by allies of Zelenskiy, and accuse him of promoting political division at a time when the country is bracing for a possible Russian military offensive.

Poroshenko was elected as the head of a pro-Western government after popular protests in 2014 ousted Russia-backed former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Zelenskiy crushed Poroshenko in a 2019 election on a campaign to fight corruption and curb the influence of oligarchs.