The Yushchenko ‘Poison Plot’ Fraud

The headlines blared: "Doctors Confirm Yushchenko Poison Claim" – and, yes, even I believed it. But, you know what? It’s a lie. And now the truth is coming out….

I knew there was something fishy about the whole "Yushchenko-was-poisoned-by-the-bad-guys" narrative, even as I blindly accepted the pronouncement of Dr. Michael Zimpfer, of the Rudolfinerhaus clinic in Vienna, that tests had "proved" the poisoning hypothesis, and he now considers the "case closed." To begin with, dioxin as a tool of would-be assassins just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense: the victim would take far too long to die, and, besides that, not a single case of death-by-dioxin poisoning has ever been recorded. Another suspicious adjunct to this story: Yushchenko declared that he wants to delay the investigation into who poisoned him until after the December 26 election. The ostensible reason for this is Yushchenko’s high-mindedness, expressed with the requisite statesman-like gravitas:

"I don’t want this factor to influence the election in some way – either as a plus or a minus. This question will require a great deal of time and serious investigation. Let us do it after the election – today is not the moment."

How noble! And, as it turns out, how utterly phony….

Surely, one might assume, a man with a "Dr." in front of his name is a sacred oracle, from whom only truth can spring: and, in any case, Zimpfer was the doctor in charge of the case – right?

Wrong. In news accounts of the Yushchenko "poisoning" mystery, Zimpfer is variously described as the "president" or the "head" of the Rudolfinerhaus clinic, but a better description of his position is "administrative chief." His official title is President of the clinic’s Board of Supervisors. The chief medical doctor at the clinic, who supervised and had first-hand knowledge of Yushchenko’s case, was Dr. Lothar Wicke. I put that in the past tense because, on December 9, Dr. Wicke resigned. It seems that his skeptical remarks concerning the unproven status of the "poisoning" accusations had proved injurious to his health. At a news conference held just after Yushchenko’s first visit to Rudolfinerhaus, Dr. Wicke had accused unnamed individuals not on the medical staff of spreading "medically falsified diagnoses concerning the condition of Mr. Yushchenko." He also pointed to the complete lack of any evidence that the candidate had been poisoned, either deliberately or otherwise. This did not endear him to the Yushchenko crowd.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a leading German newspaper, and reporter Emil Bobi, of the Austrian magazine Profil, Dr. Wicke received numerous death threats and explicit warnings from the Yushchenko clan. As the FAZ reports [Warning: if you’re going to click this link, you’d better be able to read German, and be prepared to pay]:

"Thereafter Yushchenko’s people made clear to Wicke that he should not say anything more concerning the affair, since otherwise [as Wicke puts it] ‘one would resort to other means against me and the hospital.’ Dr. Wicke is also supposed to have received death threats at the time."

The December 10 issue of Le Figaro, a leading French daily, reveals the atmosphere of thuggishness prevailing during Yushchenko’s sojourns to Rudolfinerhaus, describing the outbreak of violent scuffles at one October news conference involving "a strange security force with Slavic accents." Yielding to the demand of the Ukrainian parliament, Austrian cops were sent to Rudolfinerhaus to secure Yushchenko’s medical files. Profil reports they "practically came to blows with Yushchenko’s entourage."

According to Le Figaro, Wicke says Yushchenko angrily berated him for "perhaps having made [Yushchenko] lose the presidential elections." The heat was on, and Dr. Wicke apparently began to wilt: after all, he explained to Le Figaro, "I have a child, you understand." An armed guard was assigned to protect Dr. Wicke by order of the Viennese authorities.

But in the end, Wicke didn’t wilt: he refused to give in to demands that he retract his statements. Dr. Zimpfer’s response: "Dr. Yushchenko’s people will not be happy and will take other measures." Dr. Wicke, rather than face those "other measures," simply resigned. One can hardly blame him.

As a testament to the foresight with which George Orwell wrote about the instant "rewriting" of history, our own unofficial Ministry of Truth has dropped Dr. Wicke down the Memory Hole – the last mention of him in the "mainstream" media that I can find is in a dispatch from the Associated Press that reports the "anonymous" threats against him, and also notes a story in The Times of London citing Dr. Nikolai Korpan, the original source of the poisoning scenario:

"The London newspaper The Times on Wednesday quoted Dr. Nikolai Korpan, the Rudolfinerhaus physician who oversaw Yushchenko’s treatment, as saying that Yushchenko had been poisoned and the intention was to kill the candidate. Korpan, appearing at the news conference Wednesday with Zimpfer, said doctors were working on three different poisoning theories, including one involving dioxin.

"All theories being pursued involved poison, he said, adding, however, that ‘we don’t have any evidence of what caused the illness.’"

The Ukrainian-born Dr. Korpan is not a member of the Rudolfinerhaus staff: according to the FAZ, he was the intended target of Dr. Wicke’s charge that someone was "spreading falsified diagnoses." Dr. Korpan, whose statements to The Times were denied by Dr. Zimpfer, is a surgeon, not a specialist, brought in by Yushchenko on the occasion of his first visit to Vienna. In true Orwellian fashion, however, Dr. Wicke has been disappeared, as far as our media is concerned, and Dr. Korpan is now universally referred to as "the physician treating Yushchenko."

So, what ails Viktor Yushchenko? Beneath the cloud of murk hanging over this case, there is doubtless the truth waiting to be found. But given the heavy-handed atmosphere of intimidation and political grandstanding in which the poisoning plot has been "confirmed," what Yushchenko and his Western supporters are telling us is almost certainly not the truth. I am not a doctor, but it seems to me as if the blogger at CodeBlueBlog makes a very good case – here and here – that other factors, including lifestyle issues, may account for the dramatic deterioration of Yushchenko’s once handsome face.

In any case, what is clear at this point is that Yushchenko and his supporters are the ones doing the poisoning – by spreading their lies far and wide, and then calling for a delay in the investigation. If Yushchenko wins, you can bet the truth will never come out in a court of law – although some news outlets, albeit not the English-speaking media, are exposing him for the fraud that he is.

I have to add that the real story of how and why this tall tale has been transmuted into truth remains to be told. However, the main movers behind this enormous propaganda campaign are not the usual suspects. Jonathan Steele and Ian Traynor at the Guardian have pointed to the role played by the National Endowment for Democracy, as has U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The British writer John Laughland has underscored the key role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as the double standards employed by "objective" election observers, but the full extent of the Europeans’ involvement – especially the Germans – has so far gone undetected, or at least unremarked on, except by John Rosenthal on his excellent blog, Transatlantic Intelligencer. (Also here, and here.) This makes a lot of sense, especially since the EU is now making such a big stink about the perpetrators of the "crime" being "brought to justice." The Ukrainian political crisis is an excellent opportunity for the Euro-crats to extend their frontiers eastward, and they are taking full advantage of it – a form of imperialism that both Kerry-style "progressives" in the U.S. and neoconservatives can join hands in supporting.

I am also indebted to John Rosenthal for his excellent account of the Yushchenko "poisoning" fraud in this detailed post. His politics are apparently quite different from mine, but facts, as Ronald Reaganand John Adams – used to remind us, are stubborn things, and they trump ideology – at least in my book – every time.

If only that were universally true, but, unfortunately, it isn’t. We will no doubt be subjected to another few weeks of mindless MSM propaganda, in which the "official" story will be relentlessly repeated – for the benefit of an international audience as well as Ukrainian voters – until, like Saddam Hussein’s fabled nukes and his nonexistent connection to the 9/11 attacks, it will pass into history as a universally accepted urban legend. Yes, facts are stubborn things – but urban myths certainly have their uses.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].