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MOSCOW, May 29. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. US President Barack Obama was among the first politicians to congratulate Petro Poroshenko on his presidential election victory in Ukraine. He expressed readiness to meet him during a European tour, speaking barely five years after US officials described Poroshenko as a “disgraced oligarch”.
The US administration is familiar with the new Ukrainian leader. Cables released by WikiLeaks mention him 100 times, and some characteristics by US diplomats are far from complimentary, Kommersant daily reports.
In the 1990s, he engaged in business and headed the Ukrprominvest consortium. In 2000, he set up and chaired the Solidarity party. After the victory of the ‘orange revolution’, in 2005 he was appointed Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, and in 2007 — head of Ukraine’s National Bank. In 2009-2010 he was minister of foreign affairs, in 2012 he became minister of trade and economic development. Since December 2012, Petro Poroshenko is Verkhovna Rada deputy and member of the committee on European integration. He owns the Roshen consortium, the largest confectionery manufacturer in Ukraine. He ranks 7th in the Forbes list of richest people in Ukraine.
On May 26, 2006, Deputy Chief of the US mission in Kiev Sheila Gwaltney reported to the Department of State that Poroshenko’s image was “tainted by credible corruption allegations”. The then prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was among those who accused Poroshenko, one of Viktor Yushchenko’s close associates during the Orange Revolution, of lobbying. Confrontation with Timoshenko and the parliament cost him the post of secretary of the National Security and Defense Council in September 2005.
A whole range of Department of State cables mentions Poroshenko-Tymoshenko enmity, saying he would stop at nothing to take revenge on her for public corruption allegations.
In a cable of February 16, 2006, US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst describes Poroshenko as a “disgraced oligarch”.
From 2009, however, when Petro Poroshenko became Ukrainian foreign minister, US diplomats tended to give more favorable reports of the politician. In a cable of October 9, 2009, US interim charge d’affaires to Ukraine James Pettit described him as a “wealthy businessman with broad political connections, calling for increased European integration and more pragmatic relations with Russia”.
Other cables indicated it was Poroshenko that, while in the post of Ukrainian foreign minister, sought to prevent Kiev from undue rapprochement with Moscow. A December 2009 cable says he urged Western counterparts at a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine commission to resists Russia’s attempts to create a sphere of influence or veto his country’s aspiration for NATO membership.
Poroshenko, the cable goes, “urged the US not to read too much into language in Yanukovych's speeches favorable to Medvedev's [the then Russian president] proposal for new security architecture”. However, Tefft says, despite the new president’s stance on the issue, Poroshenko insisted “NATO membership remains an aspiration, albeit a distant one”.
Asked by Kommersant what Mr. Poroshenko thought of the US assessments, his press secretary, Irina Friz, said on Wednesday “he did not read them”.