Moscow, March 7 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from cancer may have been part of a plot by the US to infect its enemies in Latin America with the disease, according to Gennady Zyuganov, leader of Russia's Communist party.
"How did it happen that six leaders of Latin American countries which had criticised US policies and tried to create an influential alliance in order to be independent and sovereign states, fell ill simultaneously with the same disease?" Zyuganov told Russian state television.
"In my view, this was far from a coincidence," said Zyuganov, head of Russia's second-largest political party.
He urged an investigation under "international control" into Chavez's death.
Zyuganov's claim echoed accusations by Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who alleged that Chavez had fallen victim to an "imperialist" plot.
"The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health," Maduro said.
Chavez, who died at the age of 58 after a two-year battle with cancer, had himself speculated that the US may have developed methods to infect its enemies with the disease.
"Would it be so strange that they've invented the technology to spread cancer and we won't know about it for 50 years?" Chavez said in 2011, after being diagnosed with the disease.
He spoke a day after Argentina's President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
"Fidel (Castro) always told me, 'Chávez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat, a little needle and they inject you with I don't know what,'" Chavez said.
Castro was himself the target of numerous US assassination plots, according to declassified documents published by the CIA in 2007.
Among the other left-wing Latin American leaders diagnosed with cancer are Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Paraguay's Fernando Lugo, and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.