Saturday, December 11, 2004

Yushchenko Definitely Poisoned

I hadn't blogged about the Ukrainian presidential election results before, because I didn't really have anything to say. There's been lots of media coverage; Dan Drezner has a good roundup. In a nutshell, the official results declared a victory for the departing president's protege, Viktor F. Yanukovich. There were widespread allegations of fraud, and supporters of Viktor A. Yushchenko,the opposition candidate, paralysed Ukraine for several days. Given that most (Western-run) exit polls showed a double-digit lead for Yushchenko, most outside observers are convinced that the polls were rigged.

Just to make it more interesting, Viktor Yushchenko fell seriously ill during the campaign. The mystery illness changed his appearance completely; he looks haggard and worn now, while he had been known for almost-movie-star looks earlier. (CNN has good before/after pictures here.) Yushchenko alleged that he had been poisoned; his detractors claimed he had eaten bad sushi. Today, the Times is carrying a story from the International Herald Tribune confirming that Yuschenko had been poisoned. Tests conducted in Vienna indicate that this was a severe case of dioxin poisoning.

I'm not sure what this will mean for Ukraine; I hope it doesn't endanger the agreement to conduct new elections.

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