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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukrainian Leader On the Mend

MTViktor Yushchenko
KIEV -- Medical tests show that the level of dioxin in Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's blood has decreased by 80 percent more than two years after the Ukrainian leader was disfigured and nearly died from the poisoning, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Viktor Yushchenko fell severely ill during the 2004 presidential election campaign and, after treatment in Austria, was diagnosed as having suffered severe dioxin poisoning.

Earlier this month, he traveled to Geneva for medical tests, which showed that the concentration of the poison in his blood had dropped significantly as a result of "detoxification procedures," spokeswoman Larisa Mudrak said.

"The president feels well," she said.

Ukrainian authorities have concluded that the poisoning, the symptoms of which Yushchenko said appeared after a dinner with officials -- including the then head of the State Security Service, Ihor Smeshko -- was an assassination attempt. Security service officials who attended the dinner have denied all allegations of involvement.

The poisoning knocked Yushchenko off the campaign trail for weeks, and left his face severely pockmarked.

No one has been charged in the case and critics have accused prosecutors of dragging out the investigation.

Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko told reporters Tuesday that investigators were looking into accusations by Smeshko that, prior to their dinner, Yushchenko dined with the founder of a major Ukrainian appliance retailer.

Medvedko also said prosecutors were investigating a person he identified as a masseuse, but he refused to disclose any other details.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, the chief architect of President Viktor Yushchenko's pro-Western foreign policy, announced his resignation Tuesday.

"The president of Ukraine has taken the decision to accept my resignation," Tarasyuk told a news conference broadcast on national television.

Tarasyuk had been one of only two ministers still loyal to the president since Yushchenko's arch-rival from the 2004 Orange Revolution took over as prime minister last August.