Ukraine's Orange president to face new probe into mysterious illness

Viktor Yushchenko (AFP Photo)
Long believed to have been the target of a failed assassination attempt by poisoning, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is now being asked to undergo new tests to validate the theory.

In September 2004, in the run up to Ukraine’s presidential campaign, Viktor Yushchenko reportedly fell ill following a dinner with members of Ukraine’s security services. Proof of the failed attempt seemed to be clearly visible on his face, which carried deep scarring that has since been reversed through surgery.

"I tasted some medicine…on his lips,” his wife, Katerina, told ABC's Good Morning America program, discussing the evening her husband became ill. “And I asked him about it. He brushed it away, saying there is nothing."

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s security service has always denied that it had attempted to kill the former president.

“The Ukrainian Security Service did not obtain a single official document that could provide … a basis for the establishment of the time or the place or the fact of the candidate’s poisoning,” the statement read.

Now, new theories are beginning to surface as to what really happened to Viktor Yushchenko, including the possibility that he suffered from a disease that went untreated since it struck at the height of his bid for the Ukrainian presidency.

“This [possibility that he was not poisoned] cannot be ruled out,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka stated in an interview published in the Friday issue of Sevodnya. “If there was no poisoning, we should have undeniable evidence of this and an answer to the next question: so what was it?"

Pshonka said that he suggests that Yushchenko undergo another blood test in order to determine what caused a sudden change in his facial appearance.

"It is precisely in order to determine finally [the truth] that we need another sample of Yushchenko's blood.  But we don't have it," Pshonka said.

The General Prosecutor added that three letters have been forwarded to Yushchenko to propose that he undergo tests once again, yet so far it has not been done.

"His representative said he agrees – however, it has not been done yet.”

The United States and Russia were both equally suspected of attempting to influence Ukraine’s 2004 presidential elections, which pitted the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich against the more pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

Following two runoff votes and a series of protests that rocked the capital Kiev from late November 2004 to January 2005, Yushchenko was finally named president with about 52% of the vote, compared to Yanukovich's 44%.

Yushchenko’s political fortunes, however, eventually faltered as the promises of the Orange Revolution failed to translate into better living standards for the country’s 45 million people.

This year, the Orange Revolution came full circle as Viktor Yanukovich defeated Yushchenko’s former prime minister, Yulia Timoshenko, to become the Ukrainian president.

Robert Bridge, RT