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Poroshenko Doubles Down on Zelenskiy ‘Puppet’ Claim

The challenger is far ahead in the polls but his isolation from the public he claims to serve may prove his undoing.

16 April 2019

With just days until Ukraine’s presidential runoff on Sunday, incumbent President Petro Poroshenko is again claiming that challenger Volodymyr Zelenskiy is a tool of self-exiled oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.

 

In his latest salvo, Poroshenko claims Zelenskiy adviser Oleksandr Danylyuk may be breaking conflict of interest laws because he previously helped prepare the state’s case for the nationalization of a major bank co-owned by Kolomoisky.

 

The state took control of PrivatBank, the country’s largest lender, in 2016 after finding a $5.5 billion hole in its books, money that was “stolen from the bank by its former owners,” bne Intellinews writes. Danylyuk was the finance minister at the time. Kolomoisky denies defrauding the bank.

 

Kolomoisky, a billionaire and former provincial governor, left Ukraine as the PrivatBank scandal unfolded and now lives in Israel. The popular TV show “Servant of the People,” starring Zelenskiy as a common man thrust into the presidency, runs on Kolomoisky’s 1+1 channel. Zelenskiy has said Kolomoisky was not involved in his presidential campaign.

 

Ihor Kolomoisky. Image via Image via ГОРЯЧИЕ НОВОСТИ. HOT NEWS/Youtube.

 

On paper, Poroshenko’s chances of re-election on 21 April look slim. He won only about half as many votes as Zelenskiy in the first round, and a poll last week registered only 24 percent support for him, compared to 61percent for Zelenskiy, the Financial Times reports.

 

Poroshenko declared at least a symbolic victory on Sunday when Zelenskiy did not show up for a “debate” at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium attended by the press and Poroshenko supporters.

 

Zelenskiy earlier said he wanted the debate to take place on 19 April. Poroshenko’s adviser Yury Biryukov wrote on Facebook that two debates could take place that day, at the stadium and in a TV studio, Unian reported yesterday.

 

 

  • Zelenskiy traveled a total of 11 times to Geneva when Kolomoisky was living there from early 2017, and later visited Tel Aviv three times after Kolomoisky relocated to Israel, according to an investigation by the RFE/RL Ukrainian service, the Kyiv Post writes.

 

  • Lawmaker and Zelenskiy adviser Serhiy Leshchenko said the actor/producer’s link to Kolomoisky was never a secret. “Nobody hid those contacts, they are publicly accessible and absolutely understandable. It’s a collaboration that has objective and subjective reasons,” he told Hromadske on 11 April, the Post says.

 

  • “Fate has brought me to face … the puppet of Kolomoisky,” Poroshenko told supporters as the results of the 31 March first round came in. The Kyiv Post commented, “In effect, Poroshenko was reframing the election not as one between an incumbent and a popular challenger, but between him and an influential and much maligned Ukrainian tycoon who is accused of stealing $5.5 billion from the nation’s largest bank …”
Compiled by Ky Krauthamer
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