Former leader is facing charges of treason and abuse of office
A court in Kiev has rejected a request from prosecutors to put former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko behind bars while he awaits trial for a string of serious charges, but ordered that he be barred from leaving the country.
On Wednesday, judges at the Pechersky District Court decided to impose a restricted freedom regime on the ex-leader and ordered him to give up documents used for international travel.
The court, however, did not grant the prosecution's request to arrest the former president or set bail for $35.8 million. Instead, judge Oleksiy Sokolov said the former president should appear before prosecutors and investigators when instructed to do so.
Poroshenko sang during his hearing on Wednesday. At the previous session, the former head of state appeared to have dozed off.
Leaving the building after the decision's announcement, the politician said it is too early to celebrate, because President Volodymyr Zelensky's "crazy scenario is not over yet." He insists that the charges are politically motivated and designed to be a distraction from his successor's falling popularity, the sluggish economy, and the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ruling comes after Ukrainian prosecutors asked a court in Kiev to set bail for the former president at $35 million or send him to jail for two months. To avoid time behind bars, prosecutors told the presiding judge at the Pechersky District Court in Kiev on Monday that he needs to give up his passport and post bond.
The indictment for which hearings began on Monday alleged that, during his term, Poroshenko took part in a scheme to buy 1.5 billion hryvnia ($54 million) worth of coal from the breakaway Donbass in 2014 and 2015, despite restrictions put in place after the two regions seceded from Ukraine. This, according to the law, is illegal, and he is subsequently accused of treason and promoting terrorism.
Poroshenko left Ukraine in December after he received a summons to be interrogated about the possible charges. He flew back from Poland on Monday, saying he wanted to help Ukraine face the "growing threat of Russian invasion"and "betrayal" by his successor, Zelensky.
Poroshenko led the former Soviet republic from 2014 to 2019. Corruption allegations hung over his head during his time in office, particularly after Poroshenko refused to give up control of a number of the companies he owned, including the influential 5 Channel TV station. He was also accused of profiting from his position, namely by securing lucrative contracts or by using the justice system to his advantage.
The former head of state is one of the country's wealthiest oligarchs and is said to have amassed a net worth of $1.6 billion. He is also known as Ukraine's 'chocolate king'.