The situation in Ukraine continues to grow more strange and more potentially explosive. After the two major political antagonists reached an accord on new elections, the country’s parliamentarians appear to have balked at endorsing it. Meanwhile, the man in charge of the nation’s security forces has suddenly — and suspiciously — been stricken with a heart attack (via SCSU Scholars):
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Thursday extended by one day a deadline for parliament to approve a series of laws vital for holding a snap election intended to end a long-running political crisis.
The pro-Western president’s web site said he had issued a decree giving the parliament another day, until the end of Thursday, to approve the measures — hours after debate in the chamber bogged down after midnight in acrimonious exchanges. …
Much of the evening debate focused on objections from Yanukovich’s allies to the president’s call to bar parliamentarians from switching parties once elected. Other rows centered on the voters’ list and a proposal for a minimum poll turnout, rejected by the president’s allies.
One might have expected the assembly to immediately adopt the compromise reached between Yushchenko and Yanukovych. The nation had reached the point of civil war, with security forces starting to take sides, until the two men reached the agreement on new elections. Stalling that agreement could bring the nation back to the brink once again.
Underscoring that point is the sudden bad health of the Internal Affair Minister, Vasyl Tsushko. He played a crucial role in the final days of the standoff between the two men, attempting to keep control of the security forces and blocking Yushchenko’s bid to remove a prosecutor who didn’t pursue political charges against members of the Constitutional court last month. Now the man caught in the middle of the power play finds himself in the hospital, barely surviving a heart attack that Tsushko thinks resulted from a poison attack:
Minister of Internal Affairs Vasyl Tsushko, who was at the eye of the political storm at the Prosecutor-General’s office last week, has had a heart attack. Rumors immediately circulated that the minister was poisoned by a substance which triggered the attack. Tsushko has told his attorney, Tatiana Montyan, that he himself believes this.
Apparently, on 26th May the Party of Regions issued a press release which warned about a plan of ‘physical destruction’ of Vasyl Tsushko. On 27 th May the minister’s health sharply deteriorated and he was placed into the MIA hospital where his life was saved by ‘timely surgical intervention’. …
Tatiana Montyan said,”I spoke with him on Saturday at midnight… Then Tsushko rang again on Monday evening and said, “Tan’ka, greetings, I’m in the MIA hospital”. I arrived there, and found him half-dead state – he could hardly speak. There was uninvited visitor in the ward – in the opinion of minister, he came just to check how soon Tsushko would die. Tsushko said that he felt terrible – and added that he was absolutely confident as to who his poisoner was. He gave me surname of this person – and said that if he did not survive, I should reveal the information about who poisoned him, but if he survives, then he will do this himself…
No international news agencies have yet picked up on the Kiev report of Tsushko’s sudden heart attack. That in itself seems odd, given his high position in the government and his involvement in the recent power play between Yushchenko and Yanukovych. It also seems odd given the recent poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko — and the confirmed poisoning of Yushchenko three years ago.
Perhaps the heart attack came from the undue recent stress of the political situation, but just the fact that his attorney is talking publicly of poisoning makes it newsworthy. Why no coverage? And if it turns out that Tsushko was poisoned, who did it, and who would have benefitted from his death? Could it have been the same people who tried to kill Yushschenko, widely believed to have been Russians, or pro-Russian Ukranians tied to the previous Kuchma regime?
Ukraine has started to resemble The Sopranos, relocated to the edge of Eastern Europe. Democracy is stumbling, and gangsterism threatens to replace it.