What do we know about the suspected poisoning of Roman Abramovich

What do we know about the suspected poisoning of Roman Abramovich

In the night between 3 and 4 March 2022, ten days after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and two other people began to feel ill after participating in a peace negotiation in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. According to investigative journalism website Bellingcat and the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, the three were poisoned with an unidentified chemical agent, which would have caused itchy skin, severe pain in the eyes and, for Abramovich alone, the loss of vision for a few hours.

A constant and painful tearing, red eyes and severe irritation of the skin of the hands and face. These are the symptoms reported by Ambramovich, the Ukrainian MP Rustem Umerov and another negotiator after the secret meeting in Kyiv. The three began to feel better on the morning of March 4, as they moved from the capital to Istanbul to continue negotiations, although symptoms continued milder for a week. Once they arrived in Turkey they received medical treatment and met with Bellingcat chemical weapons experts, who subjected them to medical and chemical tests.

Following the analyzes carried out, the experts concluded that the symptoms were traceable. upon contact with an unspecified chemical, administered in sufficient quantity to scare the negotiators, but not kill them. However, it was not possible to retrieve information on the type of poison used, due to the lack of adequately equipped laboratories in Istanbul and because too much time would have passed between poisoning and examinations. Furthermore, it is not even clear how they came into contact with the chemical agent, given that, according to the reconstructions reported by Bellingcat, the three consumed only water and chocolate before experiencing the initial itch.

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It therefore remains a mystery who and how managed to poison the three negotiators, but, although there is still no evidence , suspicions immediately fell on Moscow intelligence. In the past, in fact, the Kremlin has been accused several times of using poison to eliminate political enemies. A recent example is the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in 2020. On this occasion the members of Bellingcat, with the support of Navalny himself, managed to find out how the Russian secret services scattered the agent. nerve Novichok in the opponent's linen. Going back even further, however, we remember the poisoning of former Russian officer Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom in 2018 and that of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko in 2004, following the so-called Orange Revolution.

According to what reported by the Wall Street Journal, the attack was directed against Abramovich by "an extremist fringe in Moscow" interested in derailing the peace talks. Indeed, since the beginning of the invasion, the oligarch has actively engaged in negotiations parallel to the official ones, apparently under the explicit request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, due to his direct access to Putin. Abramovich, who is one of the richest people in Russia, is now under sanctions from the UK and the EU, but not the US, presumably for his role as negotiator.

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