Ukraine`s premier mocked the president`s nearly fatal 2004 dioxin poisoning, saying Thursday that Viktor Yushchenko`s main problem was being poisoned by unlimited power, according to AP.
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is locked in a bitter feud with Yushchenko that has ruined their coalition and put the county on the brink of its third parliamentary elections in as many years.
She spoke before she was questioned again in a probe into the dioxin poisoning four years ago. There was no evidence of her involvement made public and many see her questioning as part of the political infighting.
"The main poisoning is the poisoning with unlimited power, a serious intoxication in the presidential secretariat," Tymoshenko told reporters.
The pro-Western coalition of Tymoshenko`s and Yushchenko`s parties fell apart this week due to the two leaders` rivalry ahead of the 2010 presidential vote and disagreement over how to deal with Russia following its war with Georgia last month.
Yushchenko has strongly condemned Russia`s actions and accused Tymoshenko of kowtowing to the Kremlin by taking a cautious stance on the conflict.
Tymoshenko, while saying she does not support Russia`s recognition of two Georgian separatist regions, stressed that Ukraine needs good relations with its eastern neighbor.
Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were the heroes of the 2004 Orange Revolution that catapulted Yushchenko to the presidency. Experts say that a new government is likely to include the Moscow-friendly Party of Regions and could turn Ukraine toward Russia and away from the West.
The poisoning incident came at the height of the 2004 election campaign and left Yushchenko`s face badly disfigured. He has suggested the poisoning may have been orchestrated by Russia.
In a sign that a tough political struggle loomed ahead, lawmakers on Thursday gave an initial approval to a bill that could make disbanding parliament a criminal offense in some cases.
The bill, which was supported by Tymoshenko`s faction in parliament, was a clear warning to Yushchenko, who has threatened to call a new vote if no coalition is formed within the next month. Yushchenko`s dissolution of parliament last year led to early elections.
Tymoshenko has hinted that she may not want to resign even though the coalition has collapsed.