Viktor Yushchenko

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Viktor Yushchenko (Віктор Ющенко) is the western-leaning candidate in Ukraine's disputed 2004 presidential elections.

Viktor Yushchenko's illness

In September 2004, Yushchenko was taken ill with symptoms that appeared to be consistent with dioxin poisoning. In early December 2004, doctors at the Rudolfinerhaus clinic in Austria, which had been treating Yushchenko, announced that Yushchenko had indeed been a victim of dioxin poisoning. [1]

The case against dioxin poisoning

However, according to right-wing columnist Justin Raimondo of

The chief medical doctor at the clinic, who supervised and had first-hand knowledge of Yushchenko's case, was Dr. Lothar Wicke. I put that in the past tense because, on December 9, Dr. Wicke resigned. It seems that his skeptical remarks concerning the unproven status of the "poisoning" accusations had proved injurious to his health... According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a leading German newspaper, and reporter Emil Bobi, of the Austrian magazine Profil, Dr. Wicke received numerous death threats and explicit warnings from the Yushchenko clan. As the FAZ reports...: "Thereafter Yushchenko's people made clear to Wicke that he should not say anything more concerning the affair, since otherwise [as Wicke puts it] 'one would resort to other means against me and the hospital.' Dr. Wicke is also supposed to have received death threats at the time." [2]

Machine translations of the FAZ article appear to support Raimondo's description of it [3] [4] [5]. According to one machine translation, "The fact that the medical manager Lothar Wicke one day before Juschtschenko came for the third time to the Rudolfinerhaus, with the grounds "overworking" his resignation explained, is for experts also no chance." [6]

The only mention of threats against Dr Wicke in the English language press was in a December 8, 2004 Associated Press report. It stated: "One of the chief doctors treating Yushchenko, Lothar Wicke, was been placed under police protection after receiving an anonymous threat. No details about the threat have been released." [7]

The case for dioxin poisoning

On the other hand, media reports have alleged that Dr Wicke was manipulated by a public relations firm retained by Yushchenko's opponents. According to the Financial Times: "Soon after Mr Yushchenko first claimed he had been poisoned, in a speech to parliament on September 21, Mr Kuchma's businessman son-in-law, Viktor Pinchuk, travelled to Vienna and discussed the claims with doctors at the Rudolfinerhaus clinic... A team of public relations experts from Euro RSCG, part of the Paris-based Havas Group, also came to Vienna, headed by Yffic Nouvellon, who had worked with Mr Pinchuk and Ms Franchuk in Kiev. Mr Nouvellon's team arranged a press conference where Lothar Wicke, the Rudolfinerhaus's general manager, contradicted Mr Yushchenko's poisoning allegations. Mr Nouvellon also contacted international media, including the Financial Times, offering evidence that Mr Yushchenko had not been poisoned." [8]

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