Viktor Yushchenko, the eventual winner of Ukraine's recent presidential elections, was poisoned with dioxins during the election campaign. Raghav Chawla explores the scandal and finds out more about dioxins.
On 5 September 2004, Viktor Yushchenko attended a dinner with leaders of the Ukrainian security services, with the aim to discuss their role in the forthcoming election campaign.1 Three hours later, he developed a headache, and, the next day, an acute stomach ache started.2 Food poisoning was the first diagnosis made by Ukrainian doctors.1
Mr Yushchenko failed to recover in the next few days. His initial symptoms not only got worse, but he also started complaining of a backache, and the left side of his face became paralysed.3
On 10 September, five days after the gathering, Mr Yushchenko decided to seek treatment at the Rudolfinerhaus clinic in Vienna, Austria. Eleven doctors agreed on the diagnosis--“acute pancreatitis accompanied by interstitial oedematous changes.”1
Dioxins belong to a group of very robust and mostly toxic chemical compounds known as persistent organic pollutants. Easily propagated over large distances by the means of air, water,