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    MOSCOW, January 20 (RIA Novosti) - Chechen Prime Minister Anatoly Popov is convinced that the political opposition attempted to poison him with a cheese pie at the end of last September.

    Mr. Popov has recounted the details of the day numerous times, and told Rossiiskaya Gazeta in an interview Tuesday: "The only thing that I alone ate were two traditional cheese pies. They had been brought on a platter and I was told that they had been prepared especially for me. It must have been the pies that were poisoned. I realized that I had ingested poison almost instantly, and was very ill by the end of the meal. My stomach was not upset, as usually happens after food poisoning, instead my temperature rose sharply." Mr. Popov showed the news correspondent the diagnosis he had received after treatment and consultations with doctors at the hospital in Khankala (Chechnya). This document had been presented to the examining magistrate.

    "The patient is diagnosed with exogenous oral poisoning by means of an unidentified toxin," the report said.

    A doctor told the prosecutor that the nature of the exogenous intoxication was not determined. However, in the event the patient had not received immediate medical attention, the doctor said that the condition would have led to "certain death in a matter of a few hours or a few days." Mr. Popov refuted rumors that the poisoning was caused by "low-quality vodka or stale watermelon." "Like all people, I sometimes drink a shot or two, but on that particular day I did not have any alcohol and I only tried a little bit of the watermelon. Moreover, everyone at the event to mark the opening of the gas pipeline ate watermelon," Mr. Popov remarked.

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