Ukraine President accuses former advisor of helping poison him
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on
Thursday accused a former close advisor of complicity in a plot to kill him by
David Zhvania, a key figure in Ukraine's 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution, had been personally involved in a plot to kill him the same year, Yushchenko told reporters, according to an Interfax news agency report.
Zhvania according to the Ukrainian leader cooperated with former top members of the country's secret police the SBU to place a theoretically lethal dose of the poison dioxin in food consumed by Yushchenko in September 2004.
The dioxin left Yushchenko weakened, and his face and body pock- marked for years. The effects of the poison are according to the Ukrainian President now "mostly gone," as a result of medical treatment and skin operations.
Yushchenko's identification of Zhvania as complicit in the apparent murder attempt marked the first time the Ukrainian leader had accused his former political ally publicly.
Ukrainian media had widely reported Zhvania was among the suspected co-participants in the poison plot as far back as 2005.
Yushchenko asked by reporters repeatedly refused to name Zhvania as a suspect, citing a need for an independent criminal investigation.
Zhvania, one of Ukraine's richest citizens, since mid-2006 has repeatedly claimed the government investigation into Yushchenko's poisoning was politically-motivated, and aimed primarily at destroying his business empire.
Commenting on Yushchenko's remarks Thursday, Zhvania rejected the president's accusation outright, saying in part: "There are absolutely no grounds (for Yushchenko's accusations)...but now there are excellent grounds for Yushchenko's impeachment."
Three Ukrainian prosecutors-general have attempted, but so far failed, to bring alleged participants in the Yushchenko poisoning to trail. Top members of the national spy agency the SBU are thought to have been involved, according to police statements.
Yushchenko has said "foreign agencies" also participated in the poison plot, without making clear which country.
A Georgian national, Zhavnia was a key figure of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, which propelled Yushchenko into office. During the mass protests Zhvania worked as a top street demonstration leader for Yushchenko, and in the subsequent elections was a top financier of Yushchenko's campaign, dpa reported.