YUSHCHENKO TO HAVE PLASTIC SURGERY IN ISRAEL
[Note by Tom Gross]
Ukraine's presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko – who is surely one of the most impressive political heroes of our time, and may well have been my choice for Time magazine's Person of the Year 2004 (which was this week awarded to George Bush) – is to have plastic surgery in Israel following the Dec. 26 repeat elections.
Doctors have confirmed that the pockmarks and cysts that badly disfigured his face were the result of dioxin poisoning. That poisoning was said to have occurred on Sept. 5 at a dinner hosted by the chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine.
Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich face each other in a new election next Sunday, ordered by the Ukrainian Supreme Court after it overturned the Nov. 21 vote, won by Yanukovich, on grounds of mass fraud.
Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper confirms that Israel has already granted Yushchenko a visa.
Israel has some of the leading doctors in the world. Many so-called liberal intellectuals in Western Europe are presently campaigning for Israeli scientists and academics, including medical experts, to be shunned internationally.
The article below comes from today's Mosnews.com, a partner website of The Moscow News. It will be interesting to see whether this story will receive wide coverage in West European media.
I attached (1) the story from Mosnews, followed by (2) a Reuters report from today giving some background about the rerun election campaign, titled "Ukraine's Yushchenko in bruising TV debate attack on PM."
-- Tom Gross
[With thanks to Ben Green for his research assistance]
Ukraine's Yushchenko to have plastic surgery in Israel for dioxin poisoning
December 21, 2004
Ukraine's presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko is to have plastic surgery in Israel following the Dec. 26 repeat elections, after doctors confirmed that the pockmarks and cysts that disfigured his face were the result of dioxin poisoning.
Yushchenko is scheduled to travel to one of the leading plastic surgeons in the world in late December, and has already been granted a visa, the Interfax news agency reported, citing Israel's Ma'ariv daily.
Yushchenko, who doctors say was poisoned with a dangerous form of dioxin in early September, must also be treated for liver problems and other ailments as a result of the poisoning.
One of Yushchenko’s aides has already visited the private clinic in Israel ahead of the opposition leader's trip to prepare for treatment there.
The pro-Western presidential candidate, who lagged a mere 3 percent in the disputed November 21 elections, was said by opposition leaders to be poisoned at a Sept. 5 dinner hosted by the chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine.
But there are various allegations as to who may have been behind the poisoning: Russian special forces and organized crime groups have been among those accused.
Ukraine's Yuschenko in bruising TV debate attack on PM
By Ron Popeski
December 21, 2004
Liberal challenger Viktor Yushchenko on Monday launched a bruising attack on Ukraine's prime minister in a live debate, his rival in re-run of a rigged presidential election, repeatedly putting him on the defensive.
Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich face each other in a new election Dec. 26, ordered by the Supreme Court after it overturned the Nov. 21 vote, won by Yanukovich, on grounds of mass fraud.
Crowds in Yushchenko's orange campaign colors brought Kiev to a halt for two weeks to demand a new vote, exposing again the split between Ukraine's nationalist west, behind the challenger, and the Russian-speaking east, which supported the prime minister.
Yushchenko, whose face is disfigured by dioxin poisoning he blames on authorities, redeemed a limp performance in a debate staged before the now discredited previous vote.
He demanded a moral explanation for what he said had been 3 million illicit votes. Yanukovich, looking nonplussed, repeatedly asked his rival to hold talks to form policy jointly.
"You're a religious person, right?" the West-leaning Yushchenko, a former prime minister and central banker, asked his rival across a stark blue studio.
"Thou shalt not steal ... And then you stole 3 million votes ... Perhaps the Supreme Court is lying and you are telling the truth?"
Speaking in calm, measured Ukrainian, the country's sole state language since independence, he accused the prime minister of demeaning tens of thousands of protesters who thronged city squares by referring to them as "bastards" or "orange rats."
Yanukovich, backed by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma and by big neighbor Russia in the earlier campaign, said his two years in office had improved living standards.
The prime minister, who has since turned on Kuchma, denounced the "orange coup" he said had denied voters their say in the earlier vote. Yushchenko, he said, would never win the confidence of all of the ex-Soviet state's 47 million people.
"You think, Viktor Andreyevich, that you will win and become president of Ukraine. You are making a huge mistake. You will be president of part of Ukraine," Yanukovich said .
But at the close of the one hour and 45-minute debate, enlivened by rules allowing the hopefuls to address each other, he appeared to offer a grudging apology for the tainted vote.
"I want to apologize to all of you that there were some improprieties in this election campaign," he said, frequently slipping into the Russian spoken in areas backing him.
"I want us to have no bad will after this election. I want our people to emerge from this renewed."
Yushchenko told viewers he would be a friend to Russia and never deny the right of millions of Russian-speaking citizens.
But, he said, it was time to understand "that a Ukrainian president must not be elected in Moscow" and referred to his rival's criminal convictions in his youth for theft and assault – charges he avoided in the first debate.
"These hands have stolen nothing," he said. "I was never in prison. I was an honest banker and I am an honest person."
He also said Ukraine could tolerate no notion of "federalism," a code word for some form of separatism.
At the height of the political crisis, several eastern regions supporting the prime minister threatened to hold a referendum on greater "autonomy" from Kiev.
Yushchenko, who advocates a Western-style democracy with a liberal economy free of bureaucratic red tape, has concentrated on winning new votes in eastern Ukraine, promising state support to its struggling Soviet-era heavy industries.