KYIV: Ukrainian border guards prevented ex-president Petro Poroshenko from leaving the country on Friday because he planned to meet Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, Kyiv’s security services said.
Poroshenko, in power from 2014 to 2019, had planned several high-level meetings abroad but said on Friday that his trip had to be cancelled because he was turned away at the border.
In a statement on Saturday, Ukraine’s SBU security services said the former leader was turned back due to his planned meeting with Orban, a European Union leader chided by Kyiv for his pro-Russian stance.
The SBU said Orban “systematically expresses an anti-Ukrainian position” and alleged Moscow planned to use the meeting “in its information and psychological operations against Ukraine.”
In response to the SBU statement, Hungary’s government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs wrote on X that Hungary “does not wish to play any part in President Zelensky’s internal political struggles”.
“News reports such as this and these political purges are yet another indication that Ukraine is not yet ready for European Union membership,” he added.
On Friday, Orban said that the EU should propose a “strategic partnership agreement” with Ukraine instead of starting membership talks with the war-torn country.
Poroshenko had been blocked from leaving the country before, including in May last year when he planned to travel to a Nato parliamentary assembly meeting in Lithuania.
After leaving office, Poroshenko was investigated under treason and corruption charges that he argued were orchestrated by his successor and political rival, the current President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The two locked horns in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections and Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party is the second biggest party in parliament, after Zelensky’s.