Ukraine's ex-interior minister says held over Yushchenko poisoning
KIEV, December 26 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's former interior minister, Yuriy Lutsenko, who was held by the country's security service on Sunday, said he was targeted for his alleged involvement in the poisoning of former president Viktor Yushchenko.
Yushchenko was poisoned with TCDD, the most harmful known dioxin, in the 2004 presidential election race against incumbent Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by then Russian President Vladimir Putin, now prime minister.
The poisoning made Yushchenko seriously ill and scarred his face. He has accused Russia of being behind the poisoning, but it has denied any involvement.
"I congratulate Viktor Yushchenko that after six years of investigation into his poisoning, there is finally a detainee in the case," Lutsenko was quoted as saying in a statement by his opposition party, the People's Self-Defense.
"Given the current political situation, I think it is absolutely logical that the detainee should be a former interior minister," he went on.
Lutsenko, who was charged with fraud and abuse of office by Ukrainian prosecutors earlier this month, said his detention was "absurd" and politically motivated.
Lutsenko's case is the latest in a crackdown on senior members of Ukraine's previous government. Last week, Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and leader of the orange revolution, was charged with misusing $425 million of state funds while in office. She has rejected the accusation, saying she is being targeted for challenging Yanukovych.