Ukraine’s top security service denied today that it had any involvement with the poisoning of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko, the leading candidate in Boxing Day’s rerun for the presidency.
In a statement posted on its Web site, Ukraine’s State Security Service, or SBU, said that “it has no relation with the worsening”? of Yushchenko’s health.
Yushchenko said last week that he was probably poisoned at a dinner with the head of the Ukrainian security service, Ihor Smeshko, and his deputy, Volodymyr Satsyuk.
“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 said.
The dioxin poisoning dramatically disfigured Yushchenko’s face but doctors have said he has recovered enough to campaign.
Ukrainian prosecutors and a special parliamentary committee are investigating, and the state security service has expressed willingness to participate in the probe.
Last night, Yushchenko told thousands of his orange-clad supporters massed at Kiev’s Independence square for a giant rally that his victory is near.
“The doors have been opened. The only thing left for us is to step over the threshold,”? he said month since the “orange revolution”? protests.
He warned of a plot to disrupt the revote, but did not say who was behind it.
Fears of violence have been high ahead of Sunday’s runoff, with rumours swirling that armed supporters of Yushchenko’s rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, are poised to head to Kiev after the vote. Yanukovych’s campaign staff has repeatedly denied the allegations.
The heated campaign has divided Ukraine between the pro-Yanukovych industrial, Russian-speaking east, and the west and centre where Yushchenko draws his support. Some eastern regions had raised the possibility of pursuing autonomy if Yushchenko wins.