According to a Wall Street Journal report, Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning after meeting in Kyiv in early March.
The Russian oligarch and at least two senior members of the Ukrainian delegation developed symptoms, including red eyes and peeling skin on their faces and hands, sources familiar with the matter said.
The Chelsea FC owner accepted a request from Ukraine in late February to help negotiate an end to Vladimir Putin’s invasion, just days after it began. The Kremlin said last week that it had played an early role in the peace talks but that the process is now in the hands of negotiating teams on both sides.
The sources told the Wall Street Journal they blamed the alleged poisoning on hardliners in Moscow who they say were trying to sabotage talks to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Mr Abramovich and Ukrainian negotiators, which include Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, have now recovered and their lives are not in danger, according to the sources.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who met with Mr. Abramovich, is unaffected, they said. Mr Zelensky’s spokesman said he had no information about the alleged incident.
In response to the report, investigative news agency Bellingcat said three members of the delegation attending peace talks on the night of March 3 showed symptoms consistent with chemical weapons poisoning. One of the victims was Mr. Abramovich, it said on Twitter.
Ukrainian MP Rustem Umerov attended the negotiations, according to Bellingcat, although it was unclear if he was personally affected by the alleged poisoning.
Three members of the negotiating team retreated to an apartment in Kyiv later that night on March 3, reportedly feeling the first symptoms that did not abate until morning.
On March 4, the group of negotiators drove from the capital to Lviv en route to Poland and then to Turkey’s capital Istanbul to continue informal negotiations with the Russian side, Bellingcat said.
Chemical weapons specialists told the outlet that the symptoms were most likely the result of poisoning with an undefined chemical weapon, with microwave irradiation being a different but less likely hypothesis.
The experts said the dosage and type of toxin used were probably insufficient to cause life-threatening harm and were likely intended to scare victims.
A source told The Guardian that Mr Abramovich lost his sight for several hours before receiving treatment in Turkey.
Mr Abramovich was asked by Ukraine last month for help in mediating his ancestry from Russia, where he amassed wealth during the post-communist privatization era of the 1990s.
Under Putin, Mr. Abramovich served as governor of the remote Arctic region of Chukotka in Russia’s far east before buying Chelsea in 2003.
Last week, Mr Abramovich flew to Moscow from Istanbul to meet the Russian president and hand over a handwritten note from Mr Zelenskyy outlining the terms Ukraine would agree to end the month-long war, the Times said.
The Chelsea FC owner was among several Russian billionaires who have been placed on sanctions lists in recent weeks in an attempt to isolate President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich, who also holds Israeli and Portuguese citizenship, has denied having close ties with Putin.
Last week, a yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich docked in Turkey’s Aegean resort of Bodrum, Turkish media reported.
Turkey’s private NTV television said the Bermuda-flagged luxury yacht Solaris docked in Turkey’s southern port after sailing from Montenegro, which has not joined sanctions against Russia.
Abramovich said earlier this month he was selling the London club, with Chelsea operating under a special government licence, and that the Premier League board had disqualified him as club director.
Several consortia have expressed interest in buying the club.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/roman-abramovich-and-ukrainian-peace-negotiators-victims-of-suspected-poisoning-after-meeting-in-kyiv-reports-41496132.html Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators ‘victims of alleged poisoning’ after meeting in Kyiv – reports