(Bloomberg) — Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian negotiators were suspected of being poisoned after meetings in kyiv earlier this month as part of talks to end the war in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the situation.
He and the Ukrainians who participated in the talks experienced peeling skin, red eyes, vision loss and headaches, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information was not public. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the suspected poisoning.
Abramovich and Rustem Umerov, a Ukrainian parliament deputy and negotiator, flew to Istanbul, Turkey, for treatment, according to the people. It is not clear who was behind the attack or what type of poison may have been used, they said. Both have recovered, and Abramovich remains involved in attempts to broker a peace deal.
Umerov said on Twitter that he is “fine” and does not warrant the poisoning report.
Ukraine and Russia are due to start a new round of peace talks in Istanbul on Tuesday, their first face-to-face talks in more than two weeks.
Abramovich had been involved as an unofficial mediator in trying to end the war in Ukraine since shortly after Russia’s invasion. He has been sanctioned by the United Kingdom and the European Union as part of widespread sanctions against Russian billionaires believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. For his part, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky asked the US government to refrain from sanctioning him for his participation in the peace process, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Over the past 15 years, Russia has been the target of multiple poisoning allegations. In 2018, the UK said Russian intelligence agents were behind the use of the nerve agent novichok to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England. Both survived but a British citizen died after coming into contact with the poison. In 2006, the UK blamed Russian agents for the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, who died after being exposed to radioactive polonium.
Russia denies any involvement in those cases.
Abramovich suffered an alleged poisoning during the talks on Ukraine
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