Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gave his annual press conference at Kyiv’s Mystetskiy Arsenal museum and arts center on December 16. Journalists were notified about the event during the day. The last time he gave a press conference to the media like this was at the start of 2018.
The main things for the upcoming year are: to achieve peace based on national interests; to restore and improve living standards for ordinary people; meet the criteria necessary for joining the EU and NATO -- @poroshenko speaking at a press conference pic.twitter.com/h2rseU0GHo— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) December 16, 2018
With the presidential elections looming and just one day after Ukraine’s momentous election of a head for its new Orthodox Church, Hromadske has put together some of the main takeaways from the conference.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Poroshenko commented on the success of the Unification Council, which brought together the three Ukrainian Orthodox churches and the election of Metropolitan Epiphanius as the head of the new Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Although this marks Ukraine’s independence from the Russian Orthodox Church, he assured people that the government will respect the Orthodox Ukrainians who wish to remain affiliated to Moscow and and thanked the population for their support.
There was no smoke or fire yesterday. The atmosphere in the Cathedral was inspirational. The conclusions from the Council were simply spectacular. I want to thank the 35,000 Ukrainians who were on St. Sophia's square yesterday - @poroshenko speaking at his annual press conference pic.twitter.com/QCJ4xh3TyL— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) December 16, 2018
The Ukrainian president stressed the fact that martial law will not exceed the established and 30-day period and therefore not affect the 2019 presidential elections.
I clearly stated that martial law would be introduced for 30 days. This was my decision before the situation in the parliament. And if a full-scale Russian invasion does not take place, it will not be extended -- President @poroshenko at his annual press conference. pic.twitter.com/ChH6TQMFTY— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) December 16, 2018
Poroshenko stated that Putin was not prepared to talk to him over Russia’s attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait as he did not expect Ukraine to have gathered evidence of aggression so quickly. He also said that Ukraine was preparing sanctions against the individuals who gave the orders to open fire on Ukraine.
#Ukraine is actively working on a package of sanctions relating to Russian aggression in the Azov Sea. They will include a list of individuals, including those who gave the order to open fire -- @poroshenko speaking at his annual press conference pic.twitter.com/RZskFISFe4— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) December 16, 2018
The 2019 presidential elections
The President did not confirm whether he would be running in the 2019 elections, stating that he would not comment on a potential election campaign until Ukraine receives the Tomos from the Ecumenical Patriarchate on January. He did state that if he were to run and lose, he would help his successor.
On his election opponents: I do not use the names of my opponents. I have no opponents. I am currently the President of #Ukraine. They are currently activists or politicians -- President @poroshenko speaking at his annual press conference. pic.twitter.com/wcTF1CnjD0— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) December 16, 2018
Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts
Poroshenko expressed dissatisfaction with the country’s anti-corruption efforts, adding that there needs to be the necessary infrastructure in place to deal with it.
The Prosecutor General’s Office
The President highlighted the fact that the PGO is no longer able to deal with corruption cases, according to the country’s Criminal Code, and that it’s functions are now limited compared to 2014 when it was a “punitive sword.”
Before 2014, the Prosecutor General's Office was a punitive sword, now it's functions are limited. The Criminal Code now prevents the PGO from dealing with corruption cases -- President @poroshenko at his annual press conference. pic.twitter.com/vMtUpxvggQ— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) December 16, 2018
The murder of Kerson activist Kateryna Handziuk
Hromadske journalists attended the event wearing “Who murdered Kateryna Handziuk?” Although the perpetrators have been arrested, it is still unclear as to who ordered the fatal acid attack. In response to Hromadske’s question, Poroshenko stated that he shared their concern and would not let the country’s image be tarnished as a result of poor investigation into the case. He added that all of Ukraine’s investigatory agencies are working on the case and reaffirmed his commitment to finding the killer, stating that all those involved will be hed accountable.
On the murder of activist Kateryna Handziuk: All investigative bodies are working on this. I personally guarantee that if someone there was found then we would not allow them to be removed from the investigation. All involved will be held responsible -- President @poroshenko pic.twitter.com/sOA6PkWumX— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) December 16, 2018
The murder of Pavel Sheremet
President Poroshenko also answered Hromadske’s question on why journalist Pavel Sheremet’s killer has not be caught. He stated that he was open to suggestions on how to further investigate the case and make sure that it is done so transparently. He added that he knew Sheremet personally and hopes that the killer will be brought to justice.
I personally knew [murdered journalist] Pavel Sheremet. There are some cases where the killer can't be found. I hope this is not the case. If you have any suggestions, I am prepared to take whatever steps to find the killer, or add transparency to the investigation - @poroshenko pic.twitter.com/vALdjq7rwY— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) December 16, 2018
/By Sofia Fedeczko