Headline: Speculation that Yushchenko will get plastic surgery in Israel
Byline: JUDY SIEGEL
Thursday, December 23, 2004 -- The Herzliya Medical Center declined to comment on Wednesday on reports alleging that Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian presidential candidate whose face was severely disfigured from dioxin poisoning, has asked to undergo cosmetic surgery in a private Israeli clinic.
HMC's spokeswoman said that it never reveals information about any of its patients, adding that she could thus not confirm or deny that Yushchenko has asked to be treated in Herzliya. HMC has for years had a well- developed program for treating foreigners, including those from Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union, who can afford any of a gamut of medical care.
According to reports in the Hebrew daily Ma'ariv and picked up by the Interfax news agency, Yushchenko is to have plastic surgery in Israel following the December 26 repeat elections. A few weeks ago, doctors confirmed that the pockmarks and cysts that disfigured his face were the result of dioxin poisoning. Yushchenko, who doctors say was poisoned with a dangerous form of dioxin in early September, must also be treated for liver problems and other ailments as a result of the poisoning, Interfax reported.
According to the report, one of Yushchenko's aides has already visited a "private clinic in Israel ahead of the opposition leader's trip to prepare for treatment there," but the name of the medical facility was not named. HMC has received numerous queries from foreign and local journalists in the last couple of days and told everyone, "No comment."
The pro-Western presidential candidate, who lagged a mere three percent behind in the disputed November 21 elections, was said by opposition leaders to be poisoned at a September 5 dinner hosted by the chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine. But there are various allegations as to who may have been behind the poisoning: Russian special forces and organized crime groups have been among those accused.
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