Roman Abramovich is a Russian Oligarch, worth around $7.8 Billion, according to Forbes. He is the owner of the Chelsea Football Club (Soccer) in London. On March 3, after he, Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, and one unnamed Ukrainian engaged in peace talks in Kyiv recently, they were poisoned. One other unnamed person involved did not have any symptoms. Fortunately, their symptoms subsided overnight, and their lives are not in jeopardy. But it begs the question: was it a warning? (Originally reported by The Wall Street Journal)
According to news media, the Russian Oligarch, Crimean and Ukraine negotiators all developed red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands. Poison is a preferred method of the Kremlin because proving who actually did it is extremely difficult. It is unclear who wanted to create a problem with the negotiators, but some pointed to Moscow hardliners who do not want peace. Officials didn’t know the cause of the attack, whether it was chemical or biological, or some form of electromagnetic -radiation.
Since the men did not die, officials suspect it was some sort of warning.
Russia has been accused of poison attacks in the past, including in an incident involving the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok that almost killed Alexei Navalny, a top Kremlin critic, in August 2020. Navalny is now imprisoned in Russia on charges widely decried as politically motivated. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of ordering Navalny’s poisoning, though he’s denied this.
Novichok was also used in the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, in the UK in March 2018, which Russia was also accused of orchestrating. Skripal, who survived the poisoning, had previously been convicted in Russia of spying for the UK.
Abramovich, along with another Russian entrepreneur, had taken part in the negotiations alongside Ukraine’s MP Rustem Umerov. The negotiation round on the afternoon of 3 March took place on Ukrainian territory, and lasted until about 10 pm.
— Bellingcat (@bellingcat) March 28, 2022
The next day the group of negotiators drove from Kyiv to Lviv on the way to Poland and then Istanbul, to continue informal negotiations with the Russian side. A Bellingcat investigator was asked to help provide an examination by chemical weapons specialists.
Based on remote and on-site examinations, the experts concluded that the symptoms are most likely the result of international poisoning with an undefined chemical weapon.
An alternative less likely hypothesis was use of microwave irradiation. The symptoms gradually subsided in the course of the following week.
The three men experiencing the symptoms consumed only chocolate and water in the hours before the symptoms appeared. A fourth member of the team who also consumed these did not experience symptoms.
According to two consulted CW experts and a doctor, the symptoms were most consistent with variants of porphyrin, organophosphates, or bicyclic substances. A definitive determination was not possible due to the absence of specialized laboratory equipment near the victims…
Bellingcat chose not to report this story earlier due to concern about the safety of the victims. Given the choice of the targeted individuals to speak up, Bellingcat and its investigative partner @the_ins_ru intend to publish an investigation into the presumed poisonings.
Bellingcat – an open-source intelligence investigative group
Zelensky reportedly asked the US not to impose sanctions on Russian Oligarch Abramovich due to his involvement in the peace talks.
During an interview with Russian journalists this weekend, which has since reportedly been barred from airing on Russian state-run TV stations, Zelenskyy said Abramovich was an initial member of a subcommittee of the Russian negotiating team who later became involved in humanitarian issues, such as civilian evacuations from the port city Mariupol, which has suffered heavy Russian bombardment.
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