Ukrainian authorities are investigating its former president, Petro Poroshenko, on suspicion of treason.
The State Bureau of Investigation accused Poroshenko, 56, of engaging in a criminal scheme to use public money to purchase coal from Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
Poroshenko, who is now a lawmaker, is suspected of helping "terrorist organizations" sell 1.5 billion hryvnia, or $54 million, worth of coal to Kyiv, and he faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty, according to an SBI statement.
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Poroshenko, who served as the president of Ukraine from 2014-19, is now the fourth suspect in a growing coal scandal, which also includes pro-Russian lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, former energy minister Vladimir Demchishin, and former businessman Sergei Kuzyara, according to the Associated Press.
His lawyers have denied any wrongdoing, saying he is being targeted by a "politically motivated" inquiry, according to Bloomberg. Poroshenko was defeated in 2019 by now-President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a former comedian who had never previously held political office.
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"Instead of strengthening the country's defenses, Zelensky is stepping up persecution of the opposition party," Poroshenko's party, the European Solidarity Party, said in a statement. "It is a complex of his own presidential inferiority and a typical attack of political paranoia, provoked in Zelensky's nothingness by the very mention of his successful predecessor."
Poroshenko is due for questioning on Dec. 23, Bloomberg reported. He is said to be out of the country, but his allies said he is expected back in Ukraine after the new year and Orthodox Christmas holidays.
The announcement about Poroshenko comes as Russia is amassing troops along its border with Ukraine, prompting concerns about an invasion in 2022. The Russian government says it does not plan to invade unless provoked and called on NATO to scale back its military presence in the region.