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Russia-Ukraine War: Was Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich poisoned in Kyiv?

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators have suffered symptoms of suspected "chemical weapons" poisoning, according to reports.

Russia Ukraine War Was Chelsea owner Roman Ibramovich poisoned in Kyiv snt
Kyiv, First Published Mar 28, 2022, 10:05 PM IST

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators have suffered symptoms of suspected "chemical weapons" poisoning, according to reports. The Chelsea owner was reportedly poisoned after a meeting in Kyiv whilst he acted as a 'peacemaker' in the Russia-Ukraine War, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Following the meeting in Ukraine's capital city, the Russian oligarch and two senior members of the Ukrainian team reportedly developed symptoms that included red eyes, painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands, sources    told the newspaper.

The health conditions of the trio, which include Crimean Tatar politician Rustem Umerov, have since improved, and their lives are not in danger, the publication added.

Also read: Chelsea sale: Saudi Media Group, Woody Johnson among bidders to be eliminated

Analysts at Bellingcat confirmed that three members of the delegation - including Abramovich - attending the peace talks between Ukraine and Russia on 3 March experienced 'symptoms consistent with poisoning with chemical weapons.  

"Bellingcat can confirm that three delegation members attending the peace talks between Ukraine and Russia on the night of 3 to 4 March 2022 experienced symptoms consistent with poisoning with chemical weapons. One of the victims was Russian entrepreneur Roman Abramovich," the investigative website tweeted.

Abramovich, another Russian entrepreneur and Ukrainian MP Rustem Umerov, took part in the negotiations, with the talks lasting until about 10 pm, Bellingcat added. The three members of the delegation left the talks on 3 March to an apartment in Kyiv later that night. 

They were all suffering from eye and skin inflammation and piercing pain in their eyes until the next morning. Sources told the Wall Street Journal that they blamed the suspected poisoning attack on hard-liners in Moscow who wanted to ruin talks to end the war.    

"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," Bellingcat added.

"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 the use of microwave irradiation. The symptoms gradually subsided in the course of the following week," the investigative website tweeted.

Abramovich has reportedly been flying between Istanbul, Moscow and Kyiv to relay messages between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. But when handed a note from the Ukrainian president outlining peace terms, the Russian despot reportedly erupted with fury.

Also read: Russia-Ukraine war: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich sanctioned by UK

The Chelsea owner has been trying to rescue his reputation after being slapped with sanctions by the United Kingdom and European Union over his closeness to Putin. Abramovich's assets have been frozen across Britain and the Continent, which prompted him to start the sale of his London property and the Chelsea football club. But his yachts and jets, worth hundreds of millions of pounds, remain out of bounds as they dodge sanctioned waters and airspace. 

Abramovich, a Russian–Portuguese–Israeli billionaire, was close to the Kremlin during the reign of Boris Yeltsin. He has been the first person to recommend Putin to Yeltsin as his replacement.

During Putin's time in power, Abramovich was the governor of the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug for eight years. After Russia attacked Ukraine, the UK imposed sanctions on Abramovich, who has been the owner of Chelsea for almost 20 years since buying the club in 2004.

The west London team is now for sale and is currently under the hammer in a bidding process. Abramovich has pledged to write off Chelsea's 1.5 billion pounds debt, and the bidding frenzy for the club could see the eventual deal hit 3 billion pounds.

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