Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko starkly accused the government yesterday of poisoning him in a "political murder" plot to knock him out of the presidential race, saying his...

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KIEV, Ukraine — Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko starkly accused the government yesterday of poisoning him in a “political murder” plot to knock him out of the presidential race, saying his massive dioxin dose probably came from a dinner three months ago with Ukraine’s security chief.

Yushchenko laid the blame unequivocally on the government of President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, his opponent in the contest to be decided in a Dec. 26 repeat of their fraud-marred runoff.

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For the first time, he also pinpointed the time and place the poisoning likely took place: a Sept. 5 dinner with the head of the Ukrainian Security Service, Ihor Smeshko, and his deputy, Volodymyr Satsyuk.

This month, as tens of thousands of his supporters took to the streets, Yushchenko won a Supreme Court decision throwing out the Ukraine election commission’s decision to award the Nov. 21 runoff to Yanukovych.

Yanukovych yesterday responded to Yushchenko’s claim by saying that he had no link to any faction among the Ukrainian authorities that could have been behind the poisoning.

Yanukovych, who received strong Russian support during the election, reiterated his claim that Yushchenko’s campaign was fed by U.S. money and accused the West of interfering in Ukraine’s affairs.

The United States says it has spent more than $65 million in the past two years to aid political organizations in Ukraine.

The election strained ties between Moscow and the West.