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December 13, 2004

Head of Ukrainian Secret Service Suspected in Yuschenko's Poisoning

He just happened to have dinner with the opposition candidate the night (they say) he was poisoned.



UKRAINIAN prosecutors will today begin an investigation into allegations that state officials tried to assassinate opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, following weekend confirmation that he was poisoned in the run-up to presidential elections.

It is an inquiry that is expected to be hugely divisive because the prime suspect is the head of the Ukraine secret service, the SBU.

The official dined with Mr Yushchenko the night he was poisoned, and medical experts say the dioxin is likely to have been administered through the food and drink.

Mr Yushchenko, expected to be elected president in re-run elections on 26 December, yesterday promised a full investigation of the case.

Leaving the Vienna clinic which confirmed, after weeks of uncertainty, that he had suffered dioxin poisoning, he told reporters: "This question will require a great deal of time and serious investigation."

His call was echoed in Washington, where state department spokeswoman Joanne Moore said: "We urge Ukrainian authorities to investigate this matter." She said US officials had also studied the Austrian report and were "deeply concerned about these findings".

Mr Yushchenko yesterday insisted his poisoning would not be the key issue in campaigning ahead of the presidential run-off contest against prime minister Viktor Yanukovich. He said: "I don’t want this factor to influence the election in some way - either as a plus or a minus."

In fact, the timing of the announcement means the issue can hardly be anything else. The poisoning allegations have been the central theme of this election battle ever since Mr Yushchenko was rushed to hospital with a mystery illness on 5 September this year.

His American wife, Ekaterina, said she knew something was wrong when she kissed him the night of the attack, and found a "medicinal" taste on his lips.

The following day, wracked with pain, Mr Yushchenko was rushed to the elite Rudolfinerhaus Clinic. Doctors there saved his life, but insisted in the weeks that followed that they did not know what had made him ill.

Nevertheless, the sight of Mr Yushchenko’s once handsome and now pockmarked and puffy face became the key image of the pro-democracy demonstrations of recent weeks.

If you're going to take a shot at the king, boys, you'd damn better'd kill him.

As the French say, Payback, c'est un bitch.

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posted by Ace at 10:34 PM

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