Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch and formerly close friend of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, has been poisoned with a chemical nerve agent.
This happened as he’s been a go-between, facilitating the negotiations for a ceasefire in Russia’s bloody war against Ukraine, an investigative report has revealed.
Wealthy Russian Billionaire, Formerly Close to Putin, Now Turned Negotiator
After Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, the United States and its western allies have slapped devastating sanctions on the Russian regime.
Largely acting out of a desire to save his wealth from sanctions, Roman Abramovich has been seeking to mediate between Putin and Ukrainian leadership led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
As a result, Abramovich’s assets have been excluded from US sanctions, as per Zelenskyy’s request.
However, the Russian oligarch, who was very close to Putin, was targeted with a chemical weapon, a nerve agent, presumably from someone on the Russian side.
An Abramovich representative has now confirmed the oligarch suffered poisoning symptoms.
He got treatment on March 5 in Istanbul, Turkey. Ambramovich. Two high-profile members of the Ukrainian negotiation team developed symptoms, such as peeling skin on their hands and faces, and painful, red streaming eyes.
According to a source of British newspaper The Guardian, Ambramovich actually went blind for several hours after; he was treated for it in a Turkish hospital in Istanbul.
His representative said his boss got the symptoms after “drinking water and eating chocolate” during the talks between Russia and Ukraine.
A report of The Wall Street Journal said it is “understood” those who orchestrated the chemical weapon attack on Ambramovich were Russian “hardliners” seeking to “sabotage” the negotiations.
– Sanctioned due to 'clear links' to Vladimir Putin
– Brokered War peace talks
– Ukrainian President asked for him not to be sanctioned in the US due to involvement in peace talks
– Suffers suspected poisoning (per @WSJ)
Roman Abramovich, guilty by association. pic.twitter.com/aqIADUrHTK
— Simon Phillips (@siphillipssport) March 28, 2022
Bellingcat can confirm that three members of the delegation 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 victims was Russian entrepreneur Roman Abramovich. https://t.co/DJaZ4CoL8J
— Bellingcat (@bellingcat) March 28, 2022
🎥 Avoid eating or drinking anything during peace talks, negotiators with Russia have been warned after the suspected poisoning of Roman Abramovichhttps://t.co/1RUDfWtZNU pic.twitter.com/iv31Cc0Bfv
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) March 29, 2022
‘Only an Intimidation Attempt’
Speaking to the UK-based Times Radio on Monday, however, investigating journalist Christo Grozev explained the nerve agent assault was most likely a warning for Abramovich and other Russian oligarchs not to betray Putin’s leadership.
Grozev said, as cited by The Daily Mail, it is almost certain the oligarch partaking in the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations was the target of the attack.
At the same time, he emphasized the chemical attack likely coming out of Moscow was designed to intimidate Ambramovich, not to kill him.
The investigative journalist notes the intimidation on Putin’s part “makes sense” since Abramovich “volunteered” to be an “honest broker” in the talks.
Some other Russian oligarchs claimed to be independent from the Kremlin and even dared to criticize the Moscow tyrant’s war.
The seeming chemical weapon attack against Abramovich is reminiscent of the 2018 chemical attack by the Russian intelligence services.
Sergey Skripal, a Russian defector, poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, presently imprisoned by Moscow, who barely survived after treatment in Germany.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of Vladimir Putin, told reporters any allegations about Ambramovich’s poisoning are completely fake.
He says this is all part of the West’s “anti-Russian propaganda” campaign.
Day 34 of my 3 day war. My army advances backwards, most of my agents are no longer secret & Abramovich has unfriended me on Facebook.
I remain a master strategist.
— Darth Putin (@DarthPutinKGB) March 29, 2022
This is 11-year-old Milena from Mariupol. She was shot in her face at a Russian checkpoint. On the second photo also Milena a week later. The girl is much better and wants to return to gymnastics. CNN came to hospital and made a report about her#RussianWarCrimes pic.twitter.com/twcI6fdFXw
— Oleksandra Matviichuk (@avalaina) March 28, 2022
Tuesday’s Mirror: “Abramovich poisoned at peace talks” #BBCPapers #TomorrowsPapersToday https://t.co/TSvkP6YUxr pic.twitter.com/dNmuTlcHgp
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 28, 2022