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Rice Downplays Ukraine Withdrawal of Iraq Troops [
Steve Weissman | Uncle Santa and Ukraine's Orange-Colored Elves [
We Treated Poisoned Yushchenko, Admit Americans
By Andrew Osborn
The Independent U.K.
Saturday 12 March 2005
Compelling evidence of America's behind-the-scenes role in Ukraine's orange revolution has come to light after a team of US doctors admitted it secretly treated the country's new pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko for poisoning during his election campaign.
Washington has been cagey about disclosing the extent of its involvement in last December's change of power in Ukraine for fear of offending Russia, which was itself accused of meddling.
Moscow had backed Mr. Yushchenko's rival, the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych and, since his defeat, has struggled to come to terms with its sudden loss of influence in a country it traditionally regarded as a close ally.
Russian politicians insist Washington orchestrated the "coup" in order to take Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and propel it towards Nato and the EU. In turn, it is frequently inferred in Ukraine that the poison Mr. Yushchenko ingested by eating a bowl of soup originated in Russia and was administered by pro-Russian forces, if not by Russia's secret service.
The poison, a heavy dose of dioxin, turned the previously photogenic Mr. Yushchenko's face into a rash of suppurating lesions and unsightly blotches and seriously undermined his health. His aides believe it was intended to kill him.
But Ukraine's new government says it knows precisely who poisoned the President. However, it says the investigation is not finished and no "guilty" individual or state has yet been named.
America has denied helping Mr. Yushchenko, whose wife Kateryna is American. It is, however, an open secret that Washington funded pro-democracy youth groups which played a major role in the transition of power and organised the huge street demonstrations that helped him win the re-run of a fraudulent election.
A Washington-based PR firm called Rock Creek Creative has also boasted of playing a significant role in branding and developing a pro-Yushchenko website but was forced to backtrack after its admission caused an uproar in Russia.
The evidence gathered by The Washington Post - from two US officials, two American doctors and the head of the Austrian clinic where Mr. Yushchenko was treated - is the strongest yet that America's role was greater than it let on. Gregory Saathoff, the lead doctor and head of the University of Virginia's critical incident analysis group, confirmed a team of six US doctors analysed Mr. Yushchenko's case, first from a distance and then in person. Samples of his hair, nails and blood were brought to Washington for analysis. Mr. Saathoff said the doctors were responding to a request from Mr. Yushchenko's family which came through the Pentagon.
He claims the US government was not involved but a US official has admitted the State Department provided logistical support for the doctors' trip to Vienna last December.
Officials said that the US ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst, also helped as did the US embassy in Vienna.
Robert McConnell, head of the US-Ukrainian Foundation, was involved in the operation and says it had to be kept a secret at the time.
Rice Downplays Ukraine Withdrawal of Iraq Troops
Friday 11 March 2005
Washington - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice downplayed Ukraine's planned withdrawal of troops from Iraq, emphasizing the issue was being coordinated between the two countries.
"We fully understand that the Ukrainian government has decided to end that troop presence," Rice said in Washington after meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart, Boris Tarasyuk.
On March 1 President Viktor Yushchenko announced that Ukraine would withdraw its coalition 1,650 troops in Iraq in three stages between mid-March and mid-October.
Yushchenko is scheduled to visit the White House on April 4 for talks with President George W. Bush aimed at deepening "strategic" ties, both countries said Friday.
"There are discussion going on about how that will be done," said Rice. "The one thing that I am very certain is that Ukraine will do it in a way that does not in any way endanger the mission or endanger the forces of others there."
Kiev also "intends to continue to be involved in helping the Iraqi people, through technical assistance, perhaps through some training," said Rice.
"We understand the commitment that the Ukrainian government has made to its own people," Rice said, referring to Yushchenko's campaign promise to pull Ukrainian troops from Iraq.
The withdrawal "has been handled in a way that demonstrates that this is a relationship that is based on partnership, based on values and where we can work together on even the most difficult issues," said Rice.
Ukraine has the sixth-largest contingent in the US-led coalition in Iraq after the United States, Britain, South Korea, Italy and Poland.
Yushchenko won a rerun presidential election in late December after mass protests and a supreme court decision annulling the previous round, which opponents called fraudulent.