News / Europe

Profile: Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine's Presidential Candidate, ‘Chocolate King’

Ukraine's 'Chocolate King' Leads Presidential Preference Polli
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 08, 2014 9:22 PM
Petro Poroshenko, a self-made confectionery magnate worth an estimated $1.3 billion, has emerged as the frontrunner in opinion polls leading up to Ukraine's presidential elections scheduled for May. The surveys show the one-time foreign minister is well ahead of his main rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Henry Ridgwell profiles the man who has pledged to rescue Ukraine’s economy and face down Russia.
Henry Ridgwell
Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, a self-made confectionery magnate worth an estimated $1.3 billion, has emerged as the front-runner in opinion polls leading up to Ukraine's presidential election scheduled for May. The surveys show the one-time foreign minister who has pledged to rescue Ukraine’s economy and face down Russia, well ahead of his main rival, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Petro Poroshenko is known as the ‘Chocolate King’ in Ukraine, having built a fortune on confectionery. But he is no stranger to politics.

He was a regular speaker at Kyiv’s Independence Square at the height of the recent protests, denouncing corruption and calling for membership in the European Union. Orysia Lutsevych is at the London-based policy institute Chatham House.

“He became so popular during the recent protests because he was giving some kind of confidence in terms of his direct action, and also because he was not affiliated with the existing political parties,” said Lutsevych.

Poroshenko has received the backing of opposition leader and former boxer Vitaly Klitschko. In a recent interview, Poroshenko said he would build on Ukraine’s revolution.

“It was born, the new country," he said. "It was born the new people. But unfortunately it left old politicians and I tried to do my best that the politicians, the government, the authorities and the president be adequate to the new people from the revolution.”

Poroshenko played a big role in the Orange Revolution in 2004 alongside his now rival Yulia Tymoshenko - becoming foreign minister under the then President Viktor Yushchenko. He built his fortune on the back of his giant chocolate company,  Roshen, alongside media and manufacturing interests. Observers say he is cultivating an image as a safe pair of hands.

“You can come here in a very safe, in a very nice country with a very experienced labor with a very effective cheap cost for creation of businesses and the only obstacle for doing that is the corruption," said Poroshenko. "That's why this is the top priority for the modernization.”

His status as a self-made billionaire sets him apart from Ukraine’s other business elites - who are often seen as corrupt, says Orysia Lutsevych of Chatham House.

“He has good understanding of the way international financial markets are working, and he is on a good term basis with a lot of Western politicians," said Lutsevych. "But also, he is somebody who understands Russia because he is doing a lot of his business with the confectionery and sugars in Russia.”

But Poroshenko’s relations with the Kremlin are poor, says Russia specialist Andrew Foxall of analyst group the Henry Jackson Society.

“His Roshen confectionery business was subject to trade sanctions and embargoes by the Russian government. The business lost an awful lot of money," he said. "He lost an awful lot of money. More recently, Poroshenko’s assets in Russia have been targeted.”

Petro Poroshenko has said he will never accept Russia’s forceful annexation of Crimea. Russia has deployed tens of thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border.

Whoever wins the May 25 election, victory will mark just the beginning of the daunting challenges that face Ukraine’s next leader

You May Like

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs