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08KYIV1064, UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO POISONING REVISITED

June 3, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV1064 2008-06-03 16:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO0101
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHKV #1064/01 1551623
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031623Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5723
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 001064 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/03/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO POISONING REVISITED 
 
REF: KYIV 01052 
 
Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4(b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  In the heat of a spat between President 
Yushchenko's team and former financial and political backer 
David Zhvaniya, the issue of Yushchenko's poisoning in 
September 2004 has once again become subject of political 
accusations.  After the Presidential Secretariat initiated a 
case to try to strip Zhvaniya of his Ukrainian citizenship 
(reftel), the former "dear friend" hurled accusations at 
Yushchenko, including that Our Ukraine fabricated the 
poisoning to gain the then presidential candidate sympathy 
points.  Yushchenko met with Prosecutor General Medvedko on 
June 2, with Medvedko ridiculing Zhvaniya's claim that there 
was no poisoning, according to the President's press service. 
 Our Ukraine MPs have come forward to dismiss Zhvaniya's 
credibility and claims, while Regions MPs have jumped on the 
bandwagon, suggesting that the issue should be looked into. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  There is little doubt that Yushchenko was 
poisoned, but he has seemed reluctant to allow charges to be 
brought about, presumably because of the politically 
explosive nature of the accusations.  His dioxin levels have 
been publicly and privately commented on by doctors from 
several countries.  Zhvaniya's accusations are aimed at a 
leader and party he may feel betrayed him -- he also accused 
Yushchenko's wife and children of being U.S. citizens, which 
is against Ukrainian law.  Regions probably sees this as an 
opportunity to sow dissension within the ruling coalition and 
to add one more distraction to the President's plate, which 
in turn they may hope will strengthen their hand in 
negotiations on a new coalition.  In the end, the poisoning 
issue is likely to die down quickly until the Prosecutor 
General's Office (PGO) names a suspect.  End summary and 
comment. 
 
Zhvaniya Goes on the Offensive 
------------------------------ 
 
3. (SBU)  PSD MP David Zhvaniya, godfather of Yushchenko's 
youngest son and once one of his closest advisors, told the 
press on May 31 that the President was not poisoned in 
September 2004, but that his political team had decided to 
create the story to generate support for the then 
presidential candidate.  He claimed that he had spoken out 
against the plan at the time, but the campaign team had 
overruled him.  Zhvaniya added that it was illogical to say 
the security services were behind the plot, because if they 
had been they would have done a more professional job. 
(Note.  Many believe, and Yushchenko has indicated, that the 
poisoning took place at a dinner at the summer home of the 
then Deputy Head of the SBU.  End note.) 
 
4. (SBU) The President and the Secretariat have not directly 
addressed this latest Zhvaniya accusation, but Prosecutor 
General Medvedko and OU MPs have criticized Zhvaniya's 
remarks.  Medvedko met with Yushchenko on June 2 on a range 
of issues, where he dismissed Zhvaniya's claims as 
ridiculous.  He said that there was expert testimony and 
analysis that showed Yushchenko had been poisoned.  He also 
said that Zhvaniya had been called as a witness in the case, 
but had refused on several occasions to come to the PGO and 
provide testimony.  (Note.  Zhvaniya was at the dinner where 
Yushchenko was probably poisoned and some media reported that 
Zhvaniya had insisted Yushchenko attend despite the unusual 
location and the late hour at which it took place, which has 
been used to cast questions on Zhvaniya's role in the 
poisoning.  End note.)  OU MP Tretyakov told the press that 
Zhvaniya's claims were irresponsible and amoral and he said 
that Zhvaniya had not been present at any of Yushchenko's 
medical examinations, so he had nothing to base his claims 
on.  OU MP Zvarych also said publicly that Zhvaniya's 
accusation was illogical and driven by motives he would not 
speculate on. 
 
5. (C) Regions MPs have sought to keep the story going. 
Volodymyr Sivkovych, who chaired the Rada's ad hoc committee 
in 2004 that investigated the poisoning, said that Zhvaniya 
was a well-informed source of what went on in the Yushchenko 
camp in 2004, but that he wouldn't comment on the accuracy of 
Zhvaniya's statements until the PGO made an announcement on 
findings in the case.  Hanna Herman told the press that 
Regions wanted the Rada's Rules Committee, which handles MP 
ethics issues, to look into Zhvaniya's claims.   (Comment. 
No one is backing Zhvaniya's claims, but it may be in 
Regions' interest to keep the conflict going and the 
coalition distracted and disunified.  End comment.) 
 
6. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
 
KYIV 00001064  002 OF 002 
 
 
TAYLOR

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