This rather melodramatic story appeared in today's "Hazeta po Kiyevski".
As usual I've loosely translated or paraphrased portions:
"Minister of Internal Affairs Vasyl Tsushko, who was at the eye of the political storm at the Prosecutor-General's office last week, has had a heart attack. Rumors immediately circulated that the minister was poisoned by a substance which triggered the attack. Tsushko has told his attorney, Tatiana Montyan, that he himself believes this.
Apparently, on 26th May the Party of Regions issued a press release which warned about a plan of 'physical destruction' of Vasyl Tsushko. On 27 th May the minister's health sharply deteriorated and he was placed into the MIA hospital where his life was saved by 'timely surgical intervention'.
Why was there an attempt to hide all this from the media? Tatiana Montyan asserts that Tsushko hoped to somehow extracate himself from his predicament - and only yesterday, when his condition further deteriorated, did he agree to go public with this information.
Tsushko's untimely exit from the stage is advantageous to all participants in the political process; for the pro-presidential supporters, because the coalition is deprived of a trusty 'sylovyk' manager, for the coalition, because Tsushko has shown himself to be too independenty minded , and for the Socialists his demise provides pre-election PR about the [attempted] murder of an honest minister.
Tatiana Montyan said,"I spoke with him on Saturday at midnight... Then Tsushko rang again on Monday evening and said, "Tan'ka, greetings, I'm in the MIA hospital". I arrived there, and found him half-dead state - he could hardly speak. There was uninvited visitor in the ward - in the opinion of minister, he came just to check how soon Tsushko would die. Tsushko said that he felt terrible - and added that he was absolutely confident as to who his poisoner was. He gave me surname of this person - and said that if he did not survive, I should reveal the information about who poisoned him, but if he survives, then he will do this himself...
At Tuesday lunchtime I received a message from Tsushko's mobile 'phone with a request to comment on situation independently, at my own discretion, because he state was so serious that they forbade him even to talk. But yesterday in the morning I got an SMS message with the same content: "Think yourself what to do, I'm in bad shape"...
I warn the "friends of the poisoners" - I have already told my husband and lots of other people Tsushko's version of events, so to poison me too would be thoughtless. But I do not lose hope that he will be able to survive."
In December 2006, Tshusko told 'Gazeta po Kiyevski' that several years ago - when he was the governor of Odessa region - the Mafia mercilessly 'dealt with' his father-in-law. Moreover, just before the first arrival of the President Yushchenko in Odessa region in 2005, someone pulled up the monument on the grave of his father-in-law.
In the past year, exactly a month after the designation Tsushko as minister of internal affairs there were telephone threats to the life of his closest family, allegedly for the political activity of Vasyl Petrovych."
LEvko says Ukrainian politics does indeed often resemble 'buffoon-like brinkmanship'.
But there are sinister undercurrents not far under the surface. Any number of unexplained deaths and assassination attempts on highly placed politicians and businessmen over the last decade and a half [including that of a former Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Kravchenko who committed suicide by shooting himself twice in the head in March 2005] give citizens a queasy feeling, suggesting stories like the one above cannot be completely discounted..
Update: Tetyana Montyan repeated in a TV broadcast that: "He [Tsushko] knows who poisoned him and why."
She will "reveal this version" if he does not live," adding, "He was half-dead on Monday. I saw him with my own eyes." A possible poisoning is being investigated.