Poisoned? Russian Oligarch, Ukraine Peace Negotiators Suffering Mystery Symptoms: Report
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JULY 19: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks as billionaire and businessman Roman Abramovich (L) looks on during a meeting with top businessmen while visiting the Sirius education center for gifted children on July 19, 2016 in Sochi, Russia. Vladimir Putin said the latest report on doping among Russian athletes lacked substance and was highly political. The Russian president said officials named in the report will be temporarily suspended.
(Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Individuals directly involved with Russian-Ukrainian peace talks held earlier this month reportedly suffered symptoms typical of poisoning after meeting together to discuss diplomatic efforts to end the war launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and two senior members allegedly showed physical reactions and other ailments which developed after meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Journal also added that Ukrainian officials are blaming “the attack on hard-liners in Moscow who they said wanted to sabotage talks to end the war” but that a “person close to Mr. Abramovich said it wasn’t clear who had targeted the group.”

The Journal also added more detail as to symptoms and what experts suspect may have happened:

Following the meeting in the Ukrainian capital, Mr. Abramovich, who has shuttled among Moscow, Lviv and other negotiating venues, as well as at least two senior members of the Ukrainian team developed symptoms that included red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands, the people said.


Western experts who looked into the incident said it was hard to determine whether the symptoms were caused by a chemical or biological agent or by some sort of electromagnetic-radiation attack, according to the people familiar.

Abramovich is the billionaire owner of the Premier League soccer team Chelsea United and has held influence in Russia since the late 1980s, when he became connected with Soviet Union leader and first President of Russia Boris Yeltsin’s inner circle.

On Monday, it was reported that Abramovich had been meeting with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky face to face and even helped pass a handwritten letter from the Ukrainian president to his Russian counterpart:

It was reported that Abramovich has held a series of meetings with Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar & member of the Ukrainian parliament, in Istanbul. Abramovich’s role is as an unofficial mediator in the conflict.

He also travelled to Moscow and Kyiv, where he has met with Russian president Putin and Ukrainian leader Zelensky, passing messages between the two including a handwritten note.

Since his private jet is under EU sanctions, Abramovich has been flying on a plane registered to a Turkish company.

Abramovich is one of several Russian oligarchs who has not been hit with sanctions from the United States, but on Friday U.S. Secretary Janet Yellen left that door open for possible future sanctions on the Portuguese-Russian-Israeli citizen:

“I would hold open the possibility that — certainly not take off the table the possibility — he or other individuals could face sanctions in the future,” she said.

Yellen declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report or Abramovich’s effectiveness as a peace-broker. The Financial Times reported today that Vladimir Putin personally approved Abramovich’s involvement in Russia’s peace talks.

“I am not going to comment on the calculus about exactly what determines if he is or isn’t sanctioned,” Yellen said. “I’m just saying that it remains a possibility.”

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