ROMAN Abramovich confirmed tonight he has been the victim of a suspected poisoning – allegedly using chemical weapons.
Reports claimed he went blind for several hours and skin peeled off his hands and face after he joined peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
Roman Abramovich has suffered suspected poisoningCredit: reuters
The Chelsea owner experienced peeling skin and red eyesCredit: rex
Abramovich hand-delivered a note to Vladimir Putin just weeks agoCredit: EPA
The alleged attack was blamed on hardliners in Moscow who want to sabotage the talks and continue Putin’s bloody war, although some said Abramovich may have been poisoned by mistake.
Symptoms included red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Abramovich also lost his sight for several hours as a result of the attack in the Ukraine capital Kyiv earlier this month, according to The Guardian.
Abramovich, plus two Ukrainians, MP Rustem Umerov and another negotiator, began experiencing searing eye pain following a peace meeting on March 3.
They had consumed only chocolate and water in the hours before.
A fourth member of the team did not fall ill, despite having the same food and drink as them.
Next day they travelled to Lviv then Poland to continue talks while still suffering painful symptoms.
When they headed to Istanbul, Abramovich complained of losing his vision, with skin peeling from his face and hands.
He was then treated in hospital.
The trio’s symptoms were said to have subsided by the end of the following week.
His spokesperson confirmed that he suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning.
Ex-chemical weapons colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon claimed the poisoning “had all the hallmarks of the Russian secret service” — and Abramovich may have been attacked by mistake.
He said: “We understand the negotiators were poisoned with organophosphates which is the base chemical in nerve agents.”
But he went on: “It does seem very strange their own negotiator Abramovich was affected. Either they don’t care about civilian casualties or it has been a poor operation.
“We saw from the Salisbury operation that the Russians are not as sharp and professional as you might expect.”
However, an advisor to the Ukrainian presidential administration has dismissed the poisoning allegation as “speculation”.
Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said “there is a lot of speculation, various conspiracy theories”.
Rustem Umerov, another member of the negotiating team, urged people not to trust “unverified information”.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba later took a similar line, saying in an interview on national television that “everyone is thirsty for news and sensations”.
However, he also added wryly: “I advise anyone going for negotiations with Russia not to eat or drink anything, (and) preferably avoid touching surfaces”.
One US official blamed an “environmental” reason for the poisoning, but gave no further explanation.
But security experts said the US may be seeking to dampen down suggestions Russia had used a chemical weapon as this would put them under pressure to retaliate, which they are reluctant to do.
Abramovich left the UK earlier this month after being sanctioned by the British government over his ties to Vladimir Putin.
He has since been involved in secret peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
These talks are believed to be a way of restoring his image following the hefty sanctions from the UK and the EU.
He has been shuttling back and forth between Moscow and Lviv in western Ukraine since the start of the war.
It isn’t known whether the suspected attack was caused by a biological or chemical agent or some sort of electromagnetic-radiation attack.
The investigative website Bellingcat found that the dosage and type of toxin used against the trio was “likely insufficient” to cause life-threatening damage.
Instead, the attack was meant to “scare” the victims.
It reports that the poison used was most likely a variant of porphyrin, a protein needed in the red blood cells to carry oxygen, but which can be dangerous at high levels.
Alternatively, it is reported that it could have been an organophosphate – similar to phosphoric acid.
President Zelensky, who has met with Abramovich in recent weeks, was reportedly unaffected.
The Russian handed Putin a handwritten note from Zelensky just days ago.
It comes as…
- Ukrainian soldiers have recaptured one of the first towns to fall to Russian invaders.
- Dramatic Call Of Duty-style footage shows the moment a Ukrainian soldier obliterates a Russian tank using a guided missile.
- Murdered Putin rival Boris Nemtsov ‘was tailed’ by an agent linked to Kremlin hit squad as suspect lays siege to Mariupol.
- Up to 40,000 Ukrainians have been snatched from besieged cities and forced into Russian slave labour in a war crime.
- Chilling footage shows injured Russian soldiers looking terrified as they are awarded bravery medals for their role in Putin’s Ukraine invasion.
- Russia wants to split Ukraine in half like North and South Korea, the country’s military intelligence chief has warned.
- A blind mystic who is said to have predicted 9/11 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine claimed Putin will become “lord of the world”.
- Civilians in Kyiv have resorted to drinking sewage water as the city continues to be bombarded by horror Russian missile strikes.
A person close to Abramovich said it wasn’t clear who had targeted the group, but it may have been hardliners in Moscow who want to sabotage peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
The conditions of the Oligarch and his Ukrainian negotiators, including Crimean Tartar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, have since improved and their lives are no longer in danger, sources have said.
The shock news came as it appeared progress was being made in the peace talks, set up by Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr Kalin said the two sides were “close to agreement” on Nato, demilitarisation and protected status for the Russian language.
But there are differences on Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and Donbas, which has mostly been occupied during the conflict.
It was also reported that Russia is dropping demands Ukraine be “denazified” — and the country could also join the EU.
Several high-profile figures linked to Vladimir Putin have suffered poison attacks:
- Victor Yushchenko – Former President of Ukraine and critic of Putin. In the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, he became seriously ill after consuming dioxin, a chemical in Agent Orange. He was seriously disfigured but recovered.
- Alexander Litvinenko – Former KGB agent. In 2006, he was poisoned with polonium-210 and later died of acute radiation syndrome. He had fled Russia to London after criticising what he said was corruption in Putin’s government.
- Sergei & Yulia Skripal – Former British double agent and his daughter. They were poisoned with novichok nerve agent in Salisbury where they were living in March 2018. Three months later, two others also fell ill after coming into contact with a perfume bottle used to deliver the poison. Dawn Sturgess died while her partner, Charlie Rowley, survived.
- Alexei Navalny – Russian opposition leader. In August 2020, he fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow and was filmed screaming on board. German doctors who treated him for five months said he had been poisoned with novichok.
It came as Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK amid a crackdown on Russian money as the world seeks to strangle Putin’s regime.
The 55-year-old billionaire faces ruin as tough new restrictions were slapped on him over his home country’s bloody and brutal invasion.
Abramovich – who has a net worth of around £10billion – has been banned from selling Chelsea and has had all of his UK assets frozen after weeks of speculation he could be subject to sanctions.
Documents published by the British government accuse the Chelsea boss of having a “close relationship” with Putin.
And UK officials also accused him of being involved in “destabilising” Ukraine through his stake in steel manufacturers and mining company Evraz PLC.
Documents allege the firm may have provided steel to the Russian military which would have been used in the production of tanks.
Abramovich’s spokesman has previously denied Evraz steel was used for the Russian military, saying it was meant for “rail and construction”.
Russian tanks – often painted with the white ‘Z’ symbol – have played a major role in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The government document reads Evraz has been involved in “undermining or threatening” Ukraine, which includes “potentially supplying steel to the Russian military which may have been used in the production of tanks”.
Rustem Umerov was one of the other suspected poisoning victimsCredit: Alamy
The Russian Oligarch has been involved in peace talks in Ukraine in recent weeksCredit: Rex
Three-way peace talks have been held between Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine in GomelCredit: Avalon.red
Viktor Yushchenko, the former Ukrainian president, suffered dioxin poisoning in 2004Credit: AFP
Abramovich is still unable to sell Chelsea FC due to UK sanctionsCredit: Alamy
His yacht is also subject to sanctionsCredit: Reuters
The document describes Abramovich as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch” and also accuses him of taking a “financial benefit or other material benefit” from his association with Putin.
Companies linked to him are said to have gotten tax breaks, received benefits on share sales, and won contracts in the run-up to the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Abramovich took direct control of the steel group just last month – days before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich had previously sold a £151million stake in Evraz back in 2019 – a move which the company said it hoped would reduce the sanctions risk.
Pressure had been growing for the government to sanction Abramovich as he was attempting to offload Chelsea by putting it up for sale.
Abramovich – who holds Russian, Israeli and Portuguese citizenship – has now seen the club thrown into limbo.
Western officials have been going after Russia’s cash and those who have close links to Putin, such as Abramovich.
It is hoped going after the mafia-style regime’s coffers will help put an end to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Abramovich is among many of Putin’s cronies sanctioned to keep twisting the thumbscrews on Russia for waging a cruel war on Ukraine.
The Chelsea owner has a sprawling property portfolio in Britain – which he can no longer visit after a travel ban.
He has started a fire sale of his London property as well as Chelsea football club.
Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of yachts and private jets belonging to Abramovich remain out of bounds as they try and avoid sanctioned waters and airspace.
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