Who Is Ukraine's 'Chocolate King'?

Russia says it can work with Poroshenko as US decries election interference

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 26, 2014 7:51 AM CDT

(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."

Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko gestures, during a press conference, in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko pauses, during a press conference, in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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