Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has experienced symptoms of alleged poisoning after attending a meeting in kyiv in early March, in which he intervened as a negotiator to end the war in Ukraine, according to a report in the newspaper The Wall Street Journal, which cites sources close to those involved, and the investigation portal Bellingcat. The US intelligence service attributes the intoxication, however, to “environmental” reasons, according to information from the Reuters agency.
At least two Ukrainian delegates present at the meeting have suffered the same symptoms as the tycoon, for which they blame the hawks of the Kremlin, who, according to their version, want to sabotage the pacification attempts. But this version is not proven yet. “Intelligence information suggests it was due to environmental reasons, not poisoning,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. The Russian government has declined to comment on the news. The three affected are evolving favorably.
The signs that made Abramóvich and at least two high-level negotiators of the Ukrainian delegation suspect – among them, the deputy and leader of the Tatar minority Rustem Umerov – were red eyes, constant and annoying tearing and peeling of the skin. on the face and hands, among other symptoms compatible with a presumed poisoning. The cases of Russian opponent Alexei Navalni and former spy Sergei Skripal, who had to be hospitalized in serious condition although they managed to recover, are reminiscent of the Kremlin’s methods of silencing uncomfortable voices.
The information about the alleged poisoning of the three negotiators in kyiv comes from the journalist Christo Grozev, a senior Russia researcher at the Bellingcat portal. It was Grozev who concluded that the Kremlin had tried to neutralize Navalni with a nerve gas in 2020. Asked about the responsibility of the State in the attack against the opposition leader, currently in prison, Putin himself ironically assured that, if he had wanted to kill him, his agents would not have failed.
Abramovich, who traveled between the end of February and the beginning of March between the Ukrainian city of Lviv, Moscow and Istanbul to mediate between the parties, met at the aforementioned meeting with the president of Ukraine, Volodímir Zelenski, who, according to the sources cited, was not affected. Without expert evidence it is difficult to determine whether the possible aggression was committed by means of a chemical or biological agent, or through electromagnetic radiation. Grozev said he had seen images of the effects of the attack on Abramovich and the Ukrainian delegates, but that samples could not be collected in Lviv, where they were, because they had to travel urgently to Istanbul.
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By the time a German forensic team was ready to take samples, too much time had passed for the agent to be detected. “They did not intend to kill them. It was a warning,” says Grozev, according to the New York newspaper.
Unlike the bulk of oligarchs who make up Putin’s inner circle, Abramovich has been subject to sanctions only by the European Union and the United Kingdom. Zelensky expressly asked his American counterpart, Joe Biden, to refrain from punishing the extremely wealthy owner of the British soccer club Chelsea so as not to torpedo his mediation in the negotiations to end the war, which began on February 24. With important real estate properties in Manhattan (New York) – which some Democratic representatives of the city ask to be confiscated – Abramovich has Russian, Israeli, Lithuanian nationality and, in a controversial case due to the method of attribution, also Portuguese. The billionaire participates in the mediation individually, in parallel to the official negotiation, and also as a delegate of the same.