President Petro Poroshenko took a secret, vastly expensive, week-long Christmas vacation in the Maldives, a report by a Ukrainian investigative TV show Skhemy unveiled on Jan. 18.
According to the report, Poroshenko and his family vacationed on a private tropical island in the Maldives from Jan. 2-8. The first family rented a private jet to fly to the islands and appeared to have used false names for their trip.
The president whose net worth stands at around $1 billion allegedly paid $500,000 for the seven-day vacation for 10 people. In addition, Poroshenko and his companions might not have undergone border and customs checks when travelling, the investigation found.
In the guest list of the $46,000-a-night Cheval Blanc Randheli resort, the president allegedly appeared under the name of “Mr Petro Incognito (Ukraine).”
The video report of Skhemy investigative TV show that aired on Jan. 18 and covered President Petro Poroshenko’s secret vacation in the Maldives. The report is in Ukrainian. (RFE/RL)
Previously, Poroshenko’s administration said that the president had never taken a vacation during his presidency.
But a day before the story aired, Poroshenko’s administration, responding to the rumours circulating about his trip, admitted that he “made a short private visit to the Maldives” but gave no more details.
It was the first time that Poroshenko confirmed vacationing abroad since his election in 2014, although he was once photographed on a vacation in Spain, where he owns a villa, in 2016.
The Maldives report immediately provoked a heated discussion in the media. Questions were raised about the secrecy of the trip, the use of a private jet and an alias, and the pricy lifestyle led by the president of the poorest country of Europe.
Neither Poroshenko nor his administration commented on the report.
Skhemy, an investigative project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Ukraine, reported that Poroshenko rented a Dassault Falcon 7X private jet from Turkish airline Setair to bring his family from Kyiv to Male, the capital of the Maldives, on Jan. 2.
The information came from the unnamed sources and the data from the FlightRadar flight tracker website.
The rented jet has allegedly stayed in the Male airport during almost the whole time of the vacation, making only one one-day trip to Italy and back, before flying the first family back to Kyiv on Jan. 8. The company that provided the jet, Setair, told the journalists that such a service would cost 154,000 euros.
Skhemy recorded the jet’s return to Kyiv. There, the passengers were not met by the State Guards or the National Guard who usually provide security for the president and his family. Instead, several cars – one of which was identified as being used by Poroshenko on other occasions – brought the passengers, unseen, to Poroshenko’s estate in the village of Kozyn near Kyiv.
The journalists recorded that only four minutes passed between the plane stopping and the cars with its passengers driving away. Based on this fast exit and their use of a remote building far from both regular and private airport terminals, the journalists voiced doubts that the president’s family had to pass the border control formalities.
From their own unnamed sources, Skhemy obtained a list of eight passengers of the jet. Neither Poroshenko nor any of his family members were among them. There were no well-known names among the passengers.
Instead, the names of the passengers registered for the flight were the following: Vera Lazarieva, Ivan Dekhteriev, Evheniia Safonova, Oleksandr Syshchykov, Kateryna Boieva, Vitaliy Kokorin, Olena Senchenko, and Olha Herasymenko.
It led journalists to speculate that those were aliases used by Poroshenko and his family members. The president’s immediate family includes his wife and their four children, of whom the eldest one, Oleksiy Poroshenko, is married and himself has two kids.
It’s not clear how Poroshenko and other passengers passed through border and customs checks if they indeed were using false names. The journalists sent a request to the State Border Guard Service on whether the president crossed the state border of Ukraine on Jan. 1 and Jan. 8, but there was no response.
The guests of the island where the president presumably spent his vacation included eight adults and two children, the investigation says.
Paid in cash
The rent of the private island with two villas at the Cheval Blanc resort cost Poroshenko and his companions at least $46,000 per night, the report says. Thus, the six-night stay on the private island cost the president $276,000 dollars.
Through a leak, the reporters also obtained the president’s alleged bills from the resort, which stated that Poroshenko paid $37,550 in cash for “additional services” that included meals, boat trips, and scuba diving.
Ukraine’s law allows carrying up to 10,000 euros in cash when leaving the country. All the cash that exceeds that has to be declared at the customs.
On Jan. 9, the next day after the jet returned to Kyiv from Male, Poroshenko made his first public appearance in 2018.
Before going on air with the story, the reporters sent a request for comment to the presidential administration, presenting the detailed evidence the program had collected about Poroshenko’s trip. The next day the president’s press service told the online news agency Interfax-Ukraine that Poroshenko had been on a private trip to the Maldives “for the purpose of a short vacation.”
“He paid for this trip with his own, declared funds, which will be reflected in his electronic declaration,” the press service told Interfax-Ukraine.
It was the first time that Poroshenko’s administration publicly confirmed that the president vacationed abroad.
In March 2016, the photos of Poroshenko vacationing in Spain emerged online. The president was photographed visiting a pharmacy and getting into a sports car, with no security guards visible around him. Journalists from the Ukrainska Pravda online newspaper then discovered that Poroshenko owns a private villa in Spain, which he failed to disclose, allegedly because it is owned by one of his businesses and not by him directly.
Natalie Sedletska, the founder and host of the Skhemy TV show, wrote on Facebook on Jan. 19 that she was convinced the president was forced to confirm his Maldives vacation after Skhemy sent him the request for comment which showed that they have proof of his trip.
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