News / Europe

    New Ukraine President Seeks End to Violence

    Poroshenko Assumes Presidency of Conflict-Torn Ukrainei
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    Gabe Joselow
    June 07, 2014 7:36 PM
    Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko is sworn in as the country's new president Saturday and offers to hold negotiations to end a pro-Russian insurgency in the east. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from Kyiv.
    VIDEO: Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko is sworn in as the country's new president Saturday and offers to hold negotiations to end a pro-Russian insurgency in the east. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from Kyiv.
    Gabe Joselow
    In his first address as Ukraine's new president, Petro Poroshenko declared that Crimea "is, was and will be Ukrainian."
     
    The billionaire businessman took the oath of office in Kyiv Saturday, in front of parliament, world leaders and dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appears in Sophia Square, Kyiv, June 7, 2014.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appears in Sophia Square, Kyiv, June 7, 2014.
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    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appears in Sophia Square, Kyiv, June 7, 2014.
    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appears in Sophia Square, Kyiv, June 7, 2014.


    Poroshenko — Ukraine's fifth president since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union — said in his inaugural address that he will not accept Russia's annexation of Crimea. Moscow sent troops to the Black Sea peninsula earlier this year and took control of it in March.
     
    The new Ukrainian leader also pledged to open a dialogue with countrymen in eastern regions where pro-Russian separatists have clashed with Ukrainian forces.
     
    He offered amnesty to fighters who lay down their arms and offered to negotiate an end to the violence.
     
    Petro Poroshenko
     
    • Born in 1965 in Bohlrad, near the southwestern city of Odessa
    • Known as the 'Chocolate King' for his ownership of the Roshen confectionery business
    • One of Ukraine's richest men, worth at least $1.3 billion
    • Served in parliament and as foreign minister and economic and development minister
    • Worked with both pro-Russian and pro-European political factions
    • Was a key figure in the 2004 Orange Revolution
    • Was first Ukrainian billionaire to support anti-government protests in 2013
    • Won 55% of the vote in 2014 presidential elections

    "I want peace and I will bring unity to Ukraine," Poroshenko said. "That's why I'm starting my work with a peace plan."
     
    Poroshenko addressed eastern Ukrainians directly in a section of his speech in Russian. He promised a decentralization of power, respect for local communities as well as new regional elections.
     
    Poroshenko has already held brief talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin about a possible cease-fire. They spoke Friday in France, during ceremonies commemorating the World War II battle of D-Day 70 years ago.
     
    Many Ukrainians blame Russia for fueling violence in the east, where Russian fighters have been seen among rebels battling Ukrainian government troops. Moscow has repeatedly denied it is directing the rebels or has supplied their modern military equipment.
     
    Meanwhile, Putin reportedly ordered the Federal Security Service to beef up protection of Russia's border with Ukraine. On Saturday, Russian news agencies said the move aims to prevent illegal crossings into Ukraine.
     
    U.S. shows support

    Biden attended the morning inauguration ceremony with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and several other officials and lawmakers. Later in the day, he announced the U.S. is offering Ukraine an additional $48 million to help Kiyv enact reforms, build law enforcement capacity, and strengthen national unity. The U.S. also pledged $8 million to Moldova and $5 million to Moldova. The extra aid must be approved by Congress.
     
    The White House said Saturday that such activities complement long-term U.S. assistance programs designed to support reforms and build institutional capacity across a range of sectors.
     
    After the ceremony, Biden passed up a motorcade to stroll a couple of blocks to a presidential reception at St. Sophia cathedral. He set off with U.S. Sen. John McCain, soon joined by the rest of the delegation.
     
    As they walked, crowds lined the way. Some people applauded and yelled "thank you" and "USA."
     
    At St. Sophia, Poroshenko stood on a red carpet, flanked by Ukrainian flags. He and Biden spoke quietly for a couple minutes before posing for photos. McCain came next, greeting Poroshenko with a hug.
     
    Sens. Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson and Rep. Marcy Kaptur greeted Poroshenko together. "It’s wonderful to stand with you," Murphy told the new president.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was visiting his ancestral home in Saint Briac-Sur-Mer, France, where he expressed the hope that, "in the next few days, we can see some steps taken that will reduce the tensions."

    Kerry said such measures offered "the possibility of a cease-fire, the possibility of Russia helping to be able to get the separatists to begin to put their guns away, get out of buildings and begin to build Ukraine."
     
    Poroshenko under microscope
     
    Poroshenko's supporters and critics are watching to see how he will engage with Putin and others.
     
    Taras, a Kyiv resident standing outside St. Sophia's Cathedral with his wife and infant son, said he thinks dialogue is the way forward.
     
    Poroshenko “has to negotiate with Putin,” he said, “because only by negotiations can we find a solution." The new president, Taras said, "should demolish the terrorists and restore order in the country.”
     
    In restive eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilyn, head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic’s Supreme Council, dismissed the prospect of peace talks without concessions by the central government.
     
    "After they withdraw military forces from our territory, after we exchange hostages and prisoners of war from both sides... then maybe a dialogue with Poroshenko will be possible," the Associated Press reported Pushilyn as saying shortly after the inauguration speech.
     
    Pushilyn said the new president was unwelcome in eastern Ukraine, adding, “We did not elect him.”
     
    Poroshenko was elected by a wide margin in May, rising to power on a wave of nationalism that followed the ousting of his Russian-backed predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, during protests in February.
     
    A business perspective
     
    The 48-year-old first came to prominence in Ukraine as a businessman, earning billions from his chain of Roshen candy stores.
     
    Archbishop Stephan of Ukraine's Orthodox Church said he wonders if Poroshenko's money will get in the way of his ability to lead the people.
     
    If Poroshenko “can be replanted into a position where he takes care of other people instead of his business, will he succeed?" the archbishop asked, adding, "I don't know. But we will pray that he will.”
     
    Ukraine has long been divided between the pro-Russian east and the Europe-leaning west.
     
    Poroshenko already has promised greater economic and diplomatic ties with Europe, a move that could anger Moscow and complicate his efforts to unite the country.
     
    VO White House reporter Luis Ramirez contributed to this report. Some information was provided by Reuters, the Associated Press and AFP.

     
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    Comments page of 2
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    by: David from: Chicago
    June 08, 2014 11:43 AM
    The United States is putting into place the Colombian option in Ukraine: forming a far-right paramilitary network of death squads willing to do the oligarchy's dirty work in eliminating a grassroots insurgency. Of course, this massive violation of human rights is being done, as always, in the name of democracy (which, conveniently, was overthrown with US support in the February coup).

    by: gen from: Japan
    June 07, 2014 10:40 PM
    I have a question.Why did the new president issue a plan of hiring the young men from the eastern city of Ukraine when US vice president visited Ukraine? Before Truchynev issued the plan hiring the right sectors as a national guard forces when the US vice president visited Ukraine? US advised the government in Kiev?

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 07, 2014 6:35 PM
    CRAZY isn't it? .. The new President Poroshenko says he has a plan to bring peace to Ukraine -- (BUT?) -- if a person reads the plan, they'll find out it's the exact same old plan presented by the Ukraine Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, isn't it?

    THE WISE MAN said it; -- The more things change, the more they stay the same, don't they? -- (THE PLAN?) -- No Kiev ceasefire or discussions or negotiations, until the pro-Russian separatists lay down their weapons and except Ukraine as their rulers. --- (Then they'll start negotiations?) ..... REALLY?

    The news media see's what they want to see, and haven't a clue on what they're seeing -- "When planning to attack, act like you are withdrawing, and when you are withdrawing, act like you are planning to attack" -- "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu -- (QUESTION?) -- Is Russia bringing troops back to the border to stop arms and people crossing to help pro-Russian separatist, or are they preparing to cross the border for "humanitarian reasons" to protect the pro-Russian separatists from a holocaust, if the Ukrainians keep killing innocent pro-Russians? ... (Makes you think, doesn't it?)

    by: christopher from: Dublin
    June 07, 2014 4:11 PM
    In his first address as Ukraine's new president, Petro Poroshenko declared that Crimea "is, was and will be Ukrainian."

    The billionaire businessman took the oath of office in Kyiv Saturday, in front of parliament, world leaders and dignitaries including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

    The gauntlet has been thrown down: and it's a bold move; by a brave man.

    Putin is now sayig he is putting forces in place to stop armed men from coming into eastern Ukraine: which I believe about as much and as far as I trust Putin: which is, as my grandmother used to say...."about as far as I could throw a Cathedral..."

    Yulia Tymoshenko better get this guy up to speed; and quick.....he doesn't have much time.....Donetsk is an armed camp......bad news....John McCain and Biden had a real chat walking together in Kyiv: and I know what the substance of those remarks was; as I and Joe Biden are joined are the hip...ask him, sometime....





    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 07, 2014 7:03 PM
    DO YOU REMEMBER? -- President Obama calls Northern Ireland progress, a model for peace on June 18, 2013 -- (QUESTION?) -- Do you agree with that? -- If you agree with that, then you agree that the Crimea progress, is also a model for peace, isn't it? ---- Irish, Scott Irish, or Ulster Irish? --- Ukrainian or Crimean?

    by: jesus.a.torres from: Venezuela
    June 07, 2014 4:06 PM
    Good luck for this guy - I think Crimea has been the best piece of the cake. Currently, Russia got it, has control over the peninsula.

    by: Sumit from: Moscow, Russia
    June 07, 2014 3:49 PM
    Poroshenko is old wine in a new bottle. For those who do not know: he was practically in every government during the last decade. He was one of the founder sponsors of the Party of Regions, the leader of which was the ousted President, Yanukovich. Poroshenko held the post of Minister of Economic Development in that government. So to think that he was incorrupt in a totally corrupt government is naive. Poroshenko is a guy who changes his spots quickly. A deceptive chamaleon. And his ambition and egos are outsized; he will bring more bloodshed to the country. And will be shown the door within a year...expect another Maidan in this country by next year. It is a failed state...I don't see any chance of revival economic or political.

    by: prosper from: moscow
    June 07, 2014 3:33 PM
    i have told some of my friends, russians are like someone without education, they just believe in themselves because of old money, a country that is so curropt i just don't know why dialoging with putin such is not necessary, russians don't think with their brains, i wonder when they are going to learn so uncilized a country where more than half is population smoke and drink too much is not possible for them to move to a civilization soon,

    by: JMikeR from: Tennessee United States
    June 07, 2014 2:18 PM
    This new president seems to be making all the right moves. I am encouraged by this article. I wish the leaders of the insurgency could see that they cannot win.
    In Response

    by: RJRolsen from: Washington DC
    June 09, 2014 10:00 AM
    What exactly is he doing right? Bombing a Ukrainian City? Artillery into a hospital? Refusal to recognize Russian as an official language? Refusal to allow people to elect their own governors?

    The government in Kiev has screwed up in every possible. Do you really think the people of Ukraine want the austerity plan that Kiev is planning to unleash? Cutting pensions from $164 to $*2 a month is moronic. The Government in Kiev has not done anything to unify Ukraine and has only sunk the economy more, and the IMF "plan" will do nothing to fix the problems with the Ukrainian economy.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 07, 2014 12:29 PM
    THE TRUTH? -- Nothing has changed, in what he and the ex-coup leader said -- (BUT?) -- he did say it a little differently?
    Ho Chi Minh told America; "If you want to fight a war for (40) years or more, we'll fight a war for (40) years or more, but if you want to sit down together and drink tea, we'll sit down together and drink tea" .. and NEGOTIATE?

    by: MOD from: china
    June 07, 2014 11:53 AM
    eh...funny unrealistic thoughts....
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