Tuesday 24 May 2022
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Abramovich under the weather, not poisoned: US officials

After a meeting in Kyiv, former Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and two senior Ukrainian negotiators had developed poisoning-like symptoms

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Hours after rumours broke out that former Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch, had been poisoned at negotiations in Kyiv last month, US govt officials have debunked the theory.

“The intelligence reports suggest this was environmental, not poisoning,” a source told Reuters without elaborating. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak warned against the “various conspiracy theories”.

Earlier, The Wall Street Journal had claimed that the Chelsea owner had showed symptoms consistent with poisoning, citing an investigation led by the UK, US and Dutch govt-funded outfit Bellingcat. The house had also alleged ’s involvement in poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal and Alexey Navalny.

The billionaire businessman, recently slapped with sanctions by Western nations seeking to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine, has reportedly been shuttling between Kyiv, and other sites.

After a meeting in Ukraine’s capital, Abramovich and at least two senior Ukrainian negotiators had developed symptoms including red eyes, painfully watery eyes, and peeling skin on their face and hands, the sources said according to the American newspaper.

It was not clear exactly who may have conducted the apparent attack, but those targeted blamed hardliners in seeking to disrupt ongoing talks to end the war, the journal said.

The conditions of Abramovich and the other negotiators have improved and their lives are not in danger, the people said. 

“It was not intended to kill, it was just a warning,” Christo Grozev, an investigator with open-source collective Bellingcat, said in the journal after studying the incident.

Grozev, who determined after an investigation that Kremlin agents poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent in 2020, saw images of the effects of the apparent Abramovich attack, but no samples could be collected in time for forensic experts to detect poison, the paper reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that his government had received offers of support from Russian businessmen, including the former Chelsea owner, who owns and is seeking to sell Chelsea Football Club and has had longstanding links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abramovich is currently in Istanbul, where he has met Turkish President Erdogan and is involved in the latest round of Russia-Ukraine peace talks.

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