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
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn