|Doctors Probe: Was Yushchenko Poisoned?
by Alexandra Zawadil
VIENNA (Reuters story) - Poisoning remains one of the possibilities behind Ukrainian opposition leader
Viktor Yushchenko's illness during election campaigning, Medical experts investigating his ailments said on Wednesday.
Yushchenko fell ill in September while on the presidential campaign trail and was flown to Austria for treatment. He later accused the authorities of trying to kill him with poison.
The Times newspaper in Britain on Wednesday quoted West-leaning Yushchenko's personal physician in Vienna, Mykola Korpan, as saying that the opposition leader had been poisoned in an attempt on his life.
Moscow-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich was declared the winner in the contest's Nov. 21 run-off round, triggering huge street protests in support of Yushchenko and accusations the government had rigged the polls against him.
On Wednesday Korpan did not repeat his comments to The Times that he was sure Yushchenko had been poisoned.
Instead, he told reporters at a news conference that he had at least three theories about what caused Yushchenko's illness and said "yes" when he was asked if all three theories involved poisoning.
Korpan, who supervised Yushchenko's treatment at Vienna's Rudolfinerhaus clinic, said he was awaiting test results from experts in France, the United States and Germany to shed light on his patient's illness.
The head of the Vienna hospital where Yushchenko was treated said there was still no proof of what caused the illness, which left Yushchenko's previously smooth face pocked with cysts and lesions.
"I want to make clear that up till now, no proof, zero proof, has been furnished of the influence of a poison," Dr Michael Zimpfer, head of the Rudolfinerhaus hospital, told a news conference.
"The poisoning hypothesis has neither been proven conclusively nor disproven," Zimpfer said.
Zimpfer said the hospital was still having tests conducted by specialist laboratories abroad.
The office of outgoing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has denied the allegation.
Zimpfer said that because Yushchenko arrived at the hospital five days after he fell ill it may be very difficult to trace the cause if it was poison.
Ukraine's Supreme Court later annulled the result on grounds of mass fraud and called a re-run of the vote for Dec. 26.
© Copyright 2004 Reuters
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