Who Is Ukraine's 'Chocolate King'?
Russia says it can work with Poroshenko as US decries election interference
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted May 26, 2014 7:51 AM CDT
Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko gestures, during a press conference, in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

(Newser) – Ukraine has elected a new president, and it's the man they call "The Chocolate King." Petro Poroshenko made billions in the candy industry before becoming a leading figure in Ukrainian politics. Here's what we know:

  • He's distinctly pro-European—at his victory speech he appeared alongside Vitali Klitschko, the former boxing champ who started the street protests that deposed President Viktor Yanukovych, the New York Times points out, and he's vowed to sign the European trade deal Yanukovych spurned.

  • In his victory speech, Poroshenko also said he would push for early parliamentary elections this year, a concession to Yanukovych critics who said that replacing the president wasn't enough.
  • But Moscow doesn't hate the guy; Poroshenko has business interests in Russia, and has served in pro-Russian governments before. Russia's foreign minister says Russia is "ready for dialogue" with Poroshenko, and that Vladimir Putin would respect the election results as the "will of the Ukrainian people," the BBC reports.
  • Yet US Senator Kelly Ayotte, who was in Ukraine to observe the elections, accused Russia of breaking its pledge not to interfere with the vote—separatists in the east largely prevented voting there. "We know this was Russia," Ayotte said, calling for more sanctions.
  • Poroshenko has avoided involvement with Kiev's interim government, but he's no newcomer to politics. "He is very much a figure of Ukraine’s failed past — dysfunctional governments, outsized oligarchs and epic corruption," observes Jackson Diehl at the Washington Post. One Poroshenko voter put it this way: "It's like choosing the best from the worst."

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Showing 3 of 3 comments
May 26, 2014 4:26 PM CDT
Sooo..., how different is this one from the previous? Reach, "pro Russian", with some criminal past... Start saving your old tires, you might need those in two -three years!
May 26, 2014 1:09 PM CDT
Any election during a wartime is not going to be fair, but also it wouldn't be fair to suspend elections under Marshall law. This is one clusterfck no matter how you interpret it.
May 26, 2014 10:37 AM CDT
He does kind of look like a chocolate bunny rabbit after you chew the ears off.