Petro Poroshenko sworn in: 'Ukraine will not give up on Crimea,' says new leader

The 'Chocolate King' has been sworn in as President of Ukraine

Petro Poroshenko, has vowed not to give up control of Crimea to Russia in his first address as President of Ukraine.

The billionaire “Chocolate King” was inaugurated on Saturday and set out his plans for quelling violence in the east of the country, where hundreds have died in bloody clashes between the army and pro-Russian rebels.

In his first address, Mr Poroshenko promised amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” and called for dialogue with “peaceful citizens” in the east.

“I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands — please lay down your arms,” he said, according to a translator.

The new President, who favours closer ties with Europe over Russia, met with Vladimir Putin in France during commemorations for the 70th anniversary on D-Day on Friday.

He had already received a friendly welcome from Western leaders and vowed to work with the Russian President to “end the bloodshed” in eastern Ukraine.

Despite the talks, the Ukrainian President vowed not to accept Russia's annexation of Crimea.

“Crimea was, is and will be Ukrainian. There will be no trade-off,” he said.

Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin during an international D-Day commemoration ceremony Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin during an international D-Day commemoration ceremony Russia annexed the peninsula in march and the subsequent secession referendum was regarded as illegitimate by Kiev and some Western countries.

Mr Putin has denied allegations that Russia has fomented the rebellion in the east, and he insisted that the Government needs to speak directly to rebels.

Mr Poroshenko also called for early regional elections and promised increased powers for local governments but rejected calls for the federalisation of Ukraine.

He insisted that Ukrainian would remain the only state language but promised “new opportunities for the Russian language,” without elaborating on specifics.

The tycoon was elected last month with 55 per cent of the vote but concerns about the legitimacy of the election, in which some polling stations were blocked by different factions, have been raised.

As the first official replacement of ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych, he faces a mammoth task quelling a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine and tackling the country’s corruption-plagued economy.

Harsh statements on the pro-Russian rebels, branding them “terrorists” and promising retribution for the deaths of Government soldiers, came before bloody assaults on the insurgents that have killed hundreds.

The task is a far cry from the manufacturing business that made the 48-year-old’s estimated $1.6 billion (£950 million) fortune.

He started his chocolate manufacturing business by importing cocoa beans into the Soviet Union in 1991 and eventually started Roshen, the foundation of a business empire that now includes ship-building and one of the country's most influential TV stations.

Unlike many other Ukrainian billionaires, Mr Poroshenko did not make his money in murky post-Soviet privatisations, boosting his reputation as a “good tycoon”.

His political career began in 1998 and he went on to hold several positions in the former President’s Party of Regions but threw his weight behind 2004’s anti-corruption Orange Revolution.

Mr Poroshenko faced allegations of corruption himself when he stepped down as head of national security amid rumours he had used his influence to benefit another tycoon.

He later returned to serve as Foreign Minister, and briefly as economics minister after Mr Yanukovych came to power in 2010 and surprised the public last year by allying himself early with the pro-European Maidan protest movement in Kiev that caused his former leader’s downfall.

He then allied with a potential rival, former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, and endorsed him for Kiev mayor as Mr Klitschko supported him for president.

Mr Poroshenko supports signing an association agreement with the European Union, but has spoken against holding a vote on whether Ukraine should seek Nato membership.

Relations with Moscow should be good but equal and should not undermine Ukrainians' desire for closer ties with the European Union, he says.

For now, his priority will be putting a stop to the violence in the east that has killed more than 200 people in recent weeks, according to Government estimates.

Ukraine's cash-strapped Government, desperate to receive the full $17 billion (£10 billion) loan package promised by the International Monetary Fund, will have to undertake serious constitutional reforms early in his tenure as President.

Mr Poroshenko also faces a major hurdle in encouraging Parliament to agree to hold elections this year instead of in 2017 as scheduled.

If he fails, he could face the same challenges as the Orange Revolution government, which took two years to hold parliamentary elections.

Additional reporting by AP

Read more: Poroshenko and Putin vow to end bloodshed
Rebels 'massacred' in Donetsk
Putin calls for Ukrainian government to stop crackdown on rebels
International observers go missing in Donetsk as fighting rages on
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea