KIEV, Sept. 15 - Oleksandr Turchynov, a former head of the SBU security service and the staunchest ally of Yulia Tymoshenko, on Wednesday tapped secret files while joining attacks on President Viktor Yushchenko.
Turchynov, at a press conference, alleged that some of Yushchenko's top aides had been apparently attempting to have decision making in some of the key areas, such as the natural gas sector.
Although the allegations provided little or no evidence of illegal activities, it shows that much of the security service's resources have been used since February to spy on top politicians close to Yushchenko.
Turchynov was appointed the head of the SBU in early February and had resigned on Sept. 8, hours after Yushchenko had fired Tymoshenko from the post of the prime minister.
The attack from Turchynov, perhaps Tymoshenko's biggest weapon in the emerging war of compromising material, joins a wave of massive campaigning over the past week targeting Yushchenko.
The active campaigners include the Tymoshenko team, but also SDPU(O), the Communist Party and Boris Berezovskiy, a Russian billionaire living in exile in London who has been promoting Tymoshenko.
But besides natural gas and real estate sector allegations, Turchynov went further Wednesday by suggesting there had been no reason to say that Yushchenko had been poisoned during the presidential election campaign last year.
He argued that according to Ukrainian legislation, only Ukrainian doctors can confirm the case of the poisoning, and suggested that Yushchenko had been refusing to do the tests in Ukraine.
Yushchenko, whose face is still heavily disfigured from what three independent western laboratories had described as the poisoning by dioxin, a highly toxic chemical, rejected Turchynov's allegations.
"That's rubbish," Yushchenko said in New York where he is attending a U.N. General Assembly session. "The SBU didn't have enough time for the investigation because it had been busy spying on friends."
Vadym Karasiov, the head of the Institute for Global Strategies, a Kiev-based think tank, said that the allegations made by Turchynov suggest that the Tymoshenko team has started "a lengthy and serious play to seriously weaken legitimacy of Yushchenko's election as the head of the state."
Some in the Tymoshenko's team have been suggesting launching early election in January 2006, not in March 2006, apparently trying to capitalize on Tymoshenko's high ratings.
Yushchenko's party had been leading the polls with 20%, followed by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych party's 14% and Tymoshenko's 10.5% of the vote, according to a survey taken in early August. Yushchenko fired Tymoshenko last week to end a sharp political crisis that had exploded with a clash between Tymoshenko and Petro Poroshenko, Yushchenko's top security advisor.
The two seek to position themselves ahead of the crucial general election due in March 2006. The winner of the election will claim the post of the prime minister with huge powers after constitutional amendments come into force Jan. 1, 2006. (tl/ez)