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Petro Poroshenko

Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko (Ukrainian: Петро Олексійович Порошенко; born 26 September 1965) is a Ukrainian billionaire businessman and the President-Elect of Ukraine. Poroshenko served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2010, and as the Minister of Trade and Economic Development in 2012. From 2007 until 2012, he headed the Council of Ukraine's National Bank. Outside politics, Poroshenko owns a large-scale confectionery business, which has earned him the nickname of 'Chocolate King', along with a number of other companies. He was elected President of Ukraine on 25 May 2014, capturing more than 54% of the vote in the first round, thereby winning outright and avoiding a runoff.

Early life and education

Poroshenko was born in the city of Bolhrad, Odessa Oblast, on 26 September 1965,[1] but was raised in the city of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine.[2] His father, Alexey Poroshenko, was a mechanical engineer, who graduated from Lviv Agricultural Institute in 1959 and worked as a chief engineer in the Bolhrad district association of agricultural machinery from 1959-1974. His mother, Yevgenya Poroshenko (1940-2004), also worked in Bolhrad. In 1989, he graduated with a degree in economics from the international relations and law department (subsequently the Institute of International Relations) at the Kiev State University.[3]

Business career

After graduation, Poroshenko started a business selling cocoa beans. In the 1990s, he acquired control over several state-owned confectionery enterprises which he subsequently combined into the Roshen group, creating the largest confectionery manufacturing operation in Ukraine. His business success in the confectionery industry earned him the nickname "Chocolate King".[4] Poroshenko's business empire also includes several car and bus plants, Leninska Kuznya shipyard, the 5 Kanal[5] television channel as well as other businesses. In March 2012, Forbes placed him on the Forbes list of billionaires at 1,153rd place, with $1 billion.[6]

List of businesses associated with Poroshenko

A number of businesses were once part of the Ukrprominvest which Poroshenko headed in 1993–1998. The investment group was dissolved in April 2012.[7]

Political career

Member of Parliament and Secretary of the NSDC

Poroshenko first won a seat in the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) in 1998. He was initially a member of the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (SDPU), the party loyal to president Leonid Kuchma at the time. Poroshenko left SDPU(o) in 2000 to create an independent left-of-center faction, naming it Solidarity.[8] In 2001 Poroshenko was instrumental in creating the Party of Regions, also loyal to Kuchma, but Solidarity never joined it.[9] However, in December 2001 he broke ranks with Kuchma supporters to become campaign chief of Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine Bloc opposition faction. After parliamentary elections in March 2002 in which Our Ukraine won the biggest share of the popular vote and Poroshenko won a seat in parliament,[10] Poroshenko served as head of the parliamentary budget committee, where he was accused of "misplacing 47 million hryvnias" (USD$ 8.9 million).[11]

Poroshenko was considered a close confidant of Yushchenko, who is godfather to Poroshenko's daughters. Poroshenko was likely to have been the wealthiest businessman among Yushchenko supporters, and was often named as one of the main financial backers of Our Ukraine and the Orange Revolution.[12] After Yushchenko won the presidential elections in 2004, Poroshenko was appointed Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council.[3]In September 2005, highly publicized mutual allegations of corruption erupted between Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko involving the privatizations of state-owned firms. Poroshenko, for example, was accused of defending the interests of Viktor Pinchuk, who had acquired state firm Nikopol Ferroalloy for $80 million, independently valued at $1 billion.[13] In response to the allegations, Yushchenko dismissed his entire cabinet of ministers, including Poroshenko and Tymoshenko.[14] State prosecutors dismissed an abuse of power investigation against Poroshenko the following month,[15] immediately after Yushchenko dismissed Svyatoslav Piskun, General Prosecutor of Ukraine. Piskun claimed that he was sacked because he refused to institute criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko and refused to drop proceedings against Poroshenko.[16]

In the March 2006 parliamentary election Poroshenko was re-elected to the Ukrainian parliament with the support of Our Ukraine electoral bloc. He chaired the parliamentary Committee on Finance and Banking. Allegedly, since Poroshenko claimed the post of Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament for himself, the Socialist Party of Ukraine chose to be part of the Alliance of National Unity because it was promised that their party leader, Oleksandr Moroz, would be elected chairman if the coalition were formed.[14] This left Poroshenko's Our Ukraine and their ally Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc out of the Government. Poroshenko did not run in the September 2007 parliamentary election. Since February 2007, Poroshenko has headed the Council of Ukraine's National Bank.[14][17]

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