No Suspects in Yushchenko Dioxin Poisoning

KIEV — After investigating for nearly four years, Ukrainian prosecutors acknowledged Wednesday that they do not have a single suspect in President Viktor Yushchenko's dioxin poisoning.

The announcement comes a day after Yushchenko was questioned by prosecutors a second time and hinted that the investigation would produce "very unpleasant" surprises.

Yuriy Boichenko, spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office, said investigators have failed to identify any suspects — comments that raise questions about the effectiveness of the probe.

Yushchenko, then an opposition presidential candidate, fell gravely ill during the 2004 election campaign and was later diagnosed with massive dioxin poisoning, which left his face disfigured.

The president claims he knows who masterminded the crime but refuses to name names. He accuses Russia of refusing to extradite key figures in the case or provide Russian-made dioxin samples for tests.

Many in Ukraine point the finger at Russia, because Yushchenko was running against a Kremlin-backed candidate and because Russia is one of few countries that produces the dioxin of the formula found in Yushchenko's body.

Experts believe Yushchenko's summons to prosecutors Tuesday was aimed at quashing speculation by a critic who claims that the president was not poisoned by dioxin. David Zhvania, a former ally of Yushchenko, has stated in recent interviews that Yushchenko came down with food poisoning and his face was disfigured by an inflamed nerve.

Zhvania, who has parliamentary immunity from prosecution, was summoned for questioning in the case Wednesday, though he refused to give testimony. He called the probe a "show."