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Roman Abramovich, Ukraine officials ‘may have been poisoned’: report


Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and several Ukrainian officials were apparently poisoned while negotiating an end to Moscow’s invasion at a meeting where they were only served water and chocolate, according to reports Monday.

Abramovich, who accepted a Ukrainian request to help deescalate the warfare, and at least two senior members involved in negotiations suffered from peeling skin on their faces and hands, constant and painful tearing, and red eyes following a meeting in Kyiv earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The billionaire owner of the British soccer club Chelsea FC‘s eyesight also “completely disappeared” for several hours, while a member of the Ukrainian delegation, the parliamentarian Rustem Umerov, became partially blind, two sources told the Financial Times.

“People became totally blind . . . the next day,” a source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the newspaper.

Russian billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich, seen here in a photo snapped two weeks ago, suffered from symptoms suggesting he was poisoned, according to a report.
Russian billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich, seen here in a photo snapped two weeks ago, suffered from symptoms suggesting he was poisoned, according to a report.
REUTERS

While there is no clear suspect behind the alleged poisoning, it is believed to be the work of Kremlin hardliners who are opposed to any negotiated settlement, the Journal reported.

The suspected poisoning occurred after Abramovich and Umerov took part in the negotiations opposite another Russian businessman on March 3, according to Bellingcat, an investigative news site based in the Netherlands.

Abramovich is thought to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin
Abramovich is thought to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin
Mikhail Svetlov
Roman Abramovich
Abramovich, the owner of English soccer club Chelsea FC, has reportedly been meeting with Ukrainian officials in an effort to negotiate an end to the war.
UEFA via Getty Images

In the time leading up to the onset of symptoms, the negotiators reportedly only consumed chocolate and water.

After the negotiating session ended, members returned to an apartment in Kyiv. Shortly afterward, they began experiencing unpleasant symptoms, “including eye and skin inflammation and piercing pain in the eyes,” according to Bellingcat.

The next day, the Ukrainian officials traveled to Poland. From there, they flew to Istanbul for another round of negotiations.

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 According to Bellingcat, they were examined in Istanbul by a team of investigators who concluded that their symptoms were consistent with poisoning caused by a chemical weapon.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, the symptoms gradually subsided. A fourth member of the Ukrainian delegation who was exposed to the same chemical agents did not experience any symptoms, according to Bellingcat.

A Ukranian serviceman walks between rubble of the destroyed regional headquarters of kharkiv on March 27, 2022.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks between rubble of the destroyed regional headquarters in Kharkiv on March 27, 2022. Roman Abramovich and a group of Ukrainians reportedly suffered symptoms of poisoning after engaging in peace negotiations with Russian officials, the WSJ reported.
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

Abramovich and the other targeted members have improved since the apparent attack, and their lives are not believed to be in danger, the Journal reported.

The Russian oligarch hasd been shuttling among Moscow, Lviv, Kyiv, and other locales in a diplomatic push to end the fighting, the outlet reported.

A spokesperson for Abramovich did not comment last week when news broke that the Ukrainian government had lobbied against sanctioning the Kremlin confidant, hoping he could serve as a go-between in peace talks. Abramovich has been sanctioned by European powers but not by the US.

Zelensky, who has reportedly met with Abramovich but is not believed to have been present at the negotiations, was not harmed by the suspected poisoning.

Western officials are trying to determine whether the poisoning was carried out using a chemical or biological agent or by a type of electromagnetic radiation attack, according to the Journal.

Chemical weapons experts said the symptoms seemed to suggest that the officials were targeted with porphyrin, organophosphates, or bicyclic substances. The experts believe that the dosage used in the attack was deliberately low and that the intent was merely to frighten the targets rather than to cause permanent, irreversible damage, Bellingcat has reported.

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Asked about the alleged poisoning, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak denied the report, saying “there is a lot of speculation, various conspiracy theories.”

With Post wires

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