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08KYIV1630, UKRAINE: YUSHCHENKO POISONING REMAINS IN

August 18, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KYIV1630 2008-08-18 13:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #1630/01 2311355
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181355Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6232
INFO RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 001630 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE:  YUSHCHENKO POISONING REMAINS IN 
POLITICAL MIX 
 
REF: A. KYIV 1064 
     B. KYIV 1052 
 
Classified By: Charge for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary.  President Yushchenko,s 2004 poisoning has 
resurfaced as a major issue being examined both at at the 
Prosecutor General,s Office (PGO) and in the press, with 
many seeing the Presidential apparatus working the issue as a 
potential vote getter in the upcoming presidential campaign. 
On July 16, Russian officials announced to the PGO that they 
would not extradite former Deputy Head of the SBU Volodymyr 
Satsyuk, widely rumored to be one of the main suspects in the 
poisoning case.  Yushchenko for the first time on July 24 
publicly accused David Zhvaniya, one of his former "dear 
friends" and godfather to his youngest son, of direct 
involvement in the poisoning plot, a claim that was then 
echoed by PGO representatives.  Zhvaniya, whom the PGO 
brought in for questioning on July 23 after a dramatic public 
summons, continues to suggest that Yushchenko was never 
poisoned and he himself is embroiled in a battle over his 
right to Ukrainian citizenship.  Yushchenko, his 
post-poisoning lead doctor Olha Bohomolets, and prominent 
journalist Serhiy Leshchenko also spent multiple hours at the 
PGO on various dates in June and July to provide testimony. 
Despite the recent uptick in activity at the PGO and 
Yushchenko,s continual foreshadowing that he knows who the 
perpetrator is, there has been no indication that the PGO 
will formally announce its suspect(s) anytime soon. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  Russia,s refusal to extradite Satsyuk is 
probably only partially responsible for the PGO,s sudden 
resurgence in its efforts to complete the investigation.  The 
recent PGO actions are seen by many as another indication of 
the office's increasingly open pro-presidential stance.  The 
reemergence of this issue, which has seen an ebb-and-flow in 
interest over the years, may well be an attempt by Yushchenko 
to remind the public of the dramatic fate he suffered as he 
led the Orange Revolution -- and gain support for the 
upcoming 2009/2010 presidential election.  However, given the 
passage of time and barring a truly stunning revelation 
(increasingly unlikely after four years), this issue doesn't 
look to figure strongly in the upcoming contest. End Summary 
and Comment. 
 
Satsyuk: Staying Put in Russia 
 
3.  (U) The Russian Prosecutor General,s Office notified the 
Ukrainian PGO on July 16 of its decision not to extradite 
Satsyuk, widely rumored to be one of the main suspects in the 
poisoning case, on the basis that he holds Russian 
citizenship in addition to his Ukrainian citizenship.  In an 
interview with Ukrayinska Pravda (UP) published on July 7, 
Zhvaniya detailed Satsyuk,s association with Yushchenko and 
financial support to his electoral campaign in 2004.  Another 
lengthy interview published on August 11 and 12 in UP with 
Yevgeniy Chervonenko, head of Yushchenko's security detail at 
the time of his poisoning, reinforced the notion of Satsyuk's 
guilt and insinuated Satsyuk more likely took orders from the 
Russian "criminal world" than from the GOR. 
 
Zhvaniya: Irking the Investigation, Pleading International 
Assistance 
 
4.  (SBU) Ten members of the PGO presented Zhvaniya a 
highly-publicised summons at Kyiv's airport on July 16, as he 
was seeing his family off on vacation.  The summons was for a 
July 23 interview at PGO headquarters for questioning related 
to Yushchenko,s poisoning at the PGO.  (Comment: The drama 
and media coverage of the summons underscores the ongoing 
public battle between Zhvaniya and forces allied with the 
President.  The fact that Zhvaniya remained in Ukraine has 
led to speculation that questions over whether he obtained 
his citizenship through fraudulent means preclude his 
entering and exiting Ukraine. End Comment.)  Zhvaniya 
subsequently announced that he would only be willing to meet 
with Halyna Klymovych, the PGO's head investigator in the 
poisoning case; when he was denied this meeting upon arrival 
at the PGO, he claimed parliamentary immunity and left the 
building immediately.  He has also launched a public campaign 
attempting to show the Ukrainian government as violating his 
human rights and subjecting him to political persecution.  He 
has made requests to present his case at various European 
parliaments -- including France, Italy and Belgium. on this 
alleged violation of his human rights and political 
persecution.  So far, none of the parliaments has agreed to 
his request. 
 
High-Profile Interrogations at the PGO, Media Interviews 
 
5.  (SBU)  Political analyst Viktor Nebozhenko told poloffs 
on August 14 that the resurgence of the poisoning issue was 
an attempt on the part of Yushchenko, whose popularity 
ratings remain under 10 percent, to gain voters, attention 
and sympathy as campaigning for the presidential 2009/2010 
election gets underway.  The President, who has been voicing 
support for the PGO and the diligence of its investigation, 
appeared for lengthy questioning sessions himself on July 22 
and 28.  His incre
asingly estranged Rada bloc partner, 
Interior Minister Lutsenko, publicly accused Yushchenko,s 
Secretariat of using the poisoning issue as a campaign tactic 
and of interfering in the investigation by dragging 
Zhvaniya--who bankrolls Lutsenko,s People,s Self Defense 
party--back to the PGO.  Lutsenko also accused the PGO of 
acting prematurely by naming Zhvaniya as a possible 
conspirator.  Perhaps as a counterattack, Chervonenko's 
interview not only assigns blame to Zhvaniya but also accuses 
him of attempting to talk Yushchenko out of going abroad for 
treatment when his illness became apparent the day after the 
dinner at Satsyuk's dacha. 
 
6.  (SBU) Dermatologist Olha Bohomolets, the Ukrainian member 
brought onto Yushchenko,s medical team at the time of his 
poisoning, was brought into the PGO for a half day of 
questioning on June 9 and went on to give her first public 
interview on the poisoning to UP, published on July 16 and 
17.  She agreed that it was curious that the PGO took so long 
to call for her testimony, but declined to release any 
details from the interrogation, citing PGO-mandated 
confidentiality.  Much of the interview centered on a graphic 
description of the President,s treatment--with an emphasis 
on his will to persevere--starting from the time of the 
poisoning, and could be read as an attempt to regain sympathy 
for the incumbent presidential candidate.  Likewise, 
Chervonenko, head of Yushchenko's security detail at the time 
of the poisoning, gave special emphasis on Yushchenko's valor 
in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and a constant 
strength that carries through today.  Both Bohomolets and 
Chervonenko answered questions to directly refute Zhvaniya,s 
claims that Yushchenko was not poisoned but rather suffered 
food poisoning, pancreatitis, or some other less sensational 
illness.  Yushchenko's influence over the timing and content 
of these two lengthy interviews is notably clear; Bohomolets 
"received permission" from the President to tell her story, 
and the Secretariat reviewed the contents of Chervonenko's 
interview before publication. 
 
7.  (U) The PGO used force to bring Serhiy Leshchenko, a 
prominent UP journalist, in for seven hours of questioning on 
July 14; details have not been released, but Leshchenko,s 
colleagues speculate the questioning was related to his 
interview with Zhvaniya in early July regarding Zhvaniya's 
relationship with Yushchenko and the events leading up to and 
including the dinner at Satsyuk's dacha. 
 
 
 
8. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
PETTIT

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