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Ukraine's Poroshenko: Billionaire Candy Man, Veteran Politician

  • VOA News

Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko gestures to supporters at his election headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 25, 2014.

Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko gestures to supporters at his election headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 25, 2014.

Ukraine's likely president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, already is known across Ukraine as a billionaire king of chocolate, thanks to his popular brand of sweets, Roshen.

It was his concern for his country that led him to make a dangerous trip to Crimea in March and enter the presidential race.

The 48-year-old Poroshenko was born in Odessa and studied economics. He took advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 to buy an old state-run candy factory, becoming one of Ukraine's richest men, manufacturing Roshen chocolates.

Poroshenko also became involved in politics, supporting the Orange Revolution that brought President Viktor Yanukovych to power and serving as his foreign minister.

With Crimea about to be taken over by Russia, Poroshenko made a hasty trip to the capital, Simferopol, to persuade voters to reject a separatist referendum. He found himself surrounded by angry opponents and quickly retreated. But his visit made headlines and he soon entered the presidential race.

Poroshenko supports Ukrainian integration into the European Union, especially since European markets opened their markets to his chocolates when he was shut out of the Russian market.
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