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Ukraine's Ex-President Calls On President 'To Stop Persecuting Opposition,' Before Questioning

Petro Poroshenko (file photo)

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called on his successor, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to stop "persecuting" the opposition and instead carry out his presidential duties

Speaking before he was questioned at the State Bureau of Investigation (DBR) on February 28, Poroshenko told his supporters that a judge of Kyiv's Shevchenko district court had ruled to close the case he was summoned to be questioned about as there were no elements of crime found.

He also compared Zelenskiy with former Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych, who was toppled in deadly anti-government protests in February 2014.

The former president was summoned for questioning as a witness in a case about alleged interference into court activities.

"Volodymyr Oleksandrovych [Zelenskiy], do your job as president. Defend the country, strengthen the world's solidarity, help solve social problems of the people and do not turn into a Yanukovych. He had a very bad past and his future doesn't look rosy either. Leave judicial and law enforcement systems alone as their goal is to be independent," Poroshenko said, adding that his questioning looked like an attempt by Zelenskiy's team to distract attention away from the country's social problems.

Poroshenko's lawyer, Ilya Novikov, said later in a televised interview to Pryamiy television that his client was questioned for six hours.

The DBR had asked prosecutors to be allowed to forcibly bring Poroshenko in for questioning, but the former president arrived on his own.

Poroshenko, who is currently a deputy in parliament, was questioned as a witness several times last year in cases looking into several other investigations launched after he failed to win a second term as president.

The DBR said on January 20 that it was looking into 13 possible cases where Poroshenko or his associates were implicated.

A billionaire confectioner, Poroshenko and his party ran on a pro-European, anti-Russian ticket in July's parliamentary elections, winning 25 seats.

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