Thursday, November 30, 2006

Was Gaidar poisoned?

Following the murder of critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko, another critic, former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, has become violently ill – possibly from poisoning.

This from the BBC:
Former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar is being treated in a Moscow hospital after falling violently ill on a trip to Ireland on 24 November.

Speculation is rife that he may have been poisoned. He fell ill a day after former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died of radiation poisoning in London.

Mr Gaidar's daughter Maria said "doctors incline towards the view that his symptoms... indicate poisoning".

Mr Gaidar was rushed to intensive care in Dublin, then flown to Moscow.

Mr Gaidar, 50, suffered from a nose bleed and vomiting before fainting in Dublin last Friday, during a visit to promote his book The Death of Empire: Lessons for Contemporary Russia.

He has criticised President Vladimir Putin's economic policies, but is not regarded as a prominent political opponent of the Russian leader.

His programme of economic "shock therapy" under Mr Putin's predecessor Boris Yeltsin angered many Russians who saw their savings devalued. The programme lifted price controls and launched large-scale privatisations.

Anatoly Chubais, who oversaw Boris Yeltsin's privatisation programme and now heads Russia's electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems, saw his illness as suspicious.

He linked the case to Mr Litvinenko's death and last month's murder of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya - both of whom were fierce critics of President Putin.

"The theory of attempted poisoning, attempted murder should undoubtedly be considered seriously," Mr Chubais told state-run Rossiya television.

"A chain of deaths of... Politkovskaya, Litvinenko and Gaidar would perfectly correspond to the interests and vision of those people who are openly talking about a forceful, unconstitutional change of power in Russia as a possible option."

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