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Ukraine’s ex-PM calls for president to be impeached

February 26, 2019

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s former prime minister on Tuesday called for the country’s president to be impeached over alleged high-level embezzlement, amid an increasingly heated presidential race.

Yulia Tymoshenko urged lawmakers to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Petro Poroshenko following a media investigation detailing alleged embezzlement schemes in the nation’s military industries.

Tymoshenko is running against Poroshenko in the presidential campaign.

Her call is unlikely to pose a real threat to Poroshenko because of sharp divisions in parliament, but it raised the heat on the embattled president who has seen his popularity plummet amid rampant official corruption and economic woes that followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Opinion polls have shown Poroshenko and Tymoshenko trailing comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who plays the nation’s president in a popular TV series, in the run-up to the March 31 presidential election.

Zelenskiy quickly used the journalistic investigation to fire a broadside at Poroshenko, accusing his government of “profiting on blood.”

He also mocked Poroshenko’s campaign slogan “Army! Language! Faith!” that reflects the president’s emphasis on the military campaign against Russia-backed separatists in the country’s east, his efforts to limit the use of Russian language and his push for the creation of a new Ukrainian Orthodox Church independent from Moscow’s Patriarchate.

“I have just realized what “Army! Language! Faith!” means,” Zelenskiy said on Facebook. “It means that when you embezzle army funds and use the language to artificially divide people, they lose faith in you.”

The probe, conducted by investigative reporters at Bihus.info, claimed that the embezzlement scheme involving state-controlled defense factories cost the state 250 million hryvnias (about $9 million). It charged that it involved a factory that was controlled by Poroshenko.

The president ordered law enforcement agencies to quickly investigate the allegations and suspended a security official, whose son was allegedly involved in the crime.

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