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Court declines to jail Petro Poroshenko in treason case

A Kyiv judge ruled Wednesday that former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko should not be jailed while awaiting trial on charges of “high treason.”

Poroshenko, who is now a member of Parliament and leader of the European Solidarity opposition party, returned to the Ukrainian capital on Monday to face initial court proceedings in the case. He is accused of helping to arrange sales of large amounts of coal while he was president in 2014 and 2015 that helped finance the armed Russian-backed separatists in the occupied Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko has denied the charges, and denounced the case as a politically motivated prosecution directed by his successor President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who defeated Poroshenko in a landslide election in 2019.

Last week, Poroshenko traveled to Brussels in an effort to meet with senior officials and draw attention to his case. Zelenskiy’s office has said that no citizen, including Poroshenko, is above the law and called on him to return home to face justice.

“Is this a complete victory? No,” Poroshenko told a crowd of supporters who had gathered outside the courthouse. “This is just the first step in the right direction.”

The judge’s decision on Wednesday, to release Poroshenko without bail on his own recognizance, allows Ukraine to avoid the unseemly spectacle of another senior political leader behind bars, at just the moment when Western allies have linked arms to defend Ukraine against threats of a new military attack by Russia.

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