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Sweet on reform - Ukraine's chocolate king

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 02:40

April 7 - Ukraine's so-called Chocolate King is the new favorite for the presidency. As Joanna Partridge reports, billionaire Petro Poroschenko says ridding Ukraine of corruption will be one of the new leader's main challenges.

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He made his fortune of a reported $1.3 billion from chocolate but Petro Poroschenko is no Willy Wonka. He's also an experienced politican whose ambitions go beyond his confectionary empire in Ukraine. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PETRO POROSHENKO, SAYING: "We want to build up the powerful European country, influential player in the region. And I think that now we have absolutely unique situation: never ever before 62% of people supporting the European integration." Poroschenko is one of two leading candidates in May's Presidential elections. He has the support of the heavyweight boxer Vitaly Klitschko. And his main opponent Yulia Tymoshenko is a divisive figure, making him the favourite. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PETRO POROSHENKO, SAYING: "Am I too romantic? Not at all. Just because of the fact we are in the new country. And the reaction of the people is completely different from even two, three or four months before. They should understand why 104 people give their lives, how deep is the changes of the country." But what about the crisis over Crimea? There have been fresh clashes between police and pro-Russian protestors in Donetsk. SOUNDBITE) (English) UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PETRO POROSHENKO, SAYING: "It is impossible to provide security for the country without dialogue with Russia. They should fully understand that this is true. But we have two main criteria, two main factors we should take into account, Russia should take into account. Point number one: we never ever accept the fact of aggression on Crimea." He also wants Russia to remember Ukraine's political association agreement with the EU. His pro-Europe stance has hurt his business. Last year Russia's consumer watchdog banned imports of sweets from his Roshen chain of outlets and closed down one of his factories pending an investigation into alleged malpractice. He's fighting to get it reopened and says battling all kinds of corruption will be one of his main challenges if he wins the presidency. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PETRO POROSHENKO, SAYING: "The first step in modernization is huge anti-corruption measures who restore the trust for the investor and who can keep all the investors comfortable." Last year he got behind the pro-Europe protests. For now he doesn't consider NATO membership a priority. Even if it might be hard to achieve - unity and reform is. And his ultimate aim is joining the European Union.

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Sweet on reform - Ukraine's chocolate king

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 02:40