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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid