Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is suspected to have been the victim of poisoning after attending a meeting in Ukraine.
According to the investigative website Bellingcat, Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms including “piercing pain in the eyes”, but the dosage and type of toxin were likely insufficient to cause life-threatening damage and “most likely intended to scare”.
Bellingcat tweeted: “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 the victims was Russian entrepreneur Roman Abramovich.”
However, a US official said on Monday that the “intelligence highly suggests” the cause was environmental, “not poisoning.”
Abramovich has reportedly traveled between Moscow and Kyiv during the several rounds of negotiations amid the war.
The billionaire and 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 Wall Street Journal reported.
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.
“A source confirmed that he did suffer suspected symptoms of poisoning after that meeting of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, to try and find a solution to this conflict. They said Abramovich, along with two Ukrainian officials, suffered from symptoms that included red eyes, constant and painful tearing, peeling of skin on their faces and hands, and some sight loss.
“That source described Roman Abramovich’s condition now as fine. I asked if that meant he had returned to his state of health before those meetings on the 3rd and 4th of March, and they said that’s difficult to say. But what they did say is that they would continue undeterred and that these peace talks were now his sole focus and that it was “business as usual, full speed ahead.”
“Of course, Roman Abramovich is trying to rehabilitate his public image. He was slapped with sanctions from both the UK and the EU as a result of his previous closeness and ties with the Kremlin and [Putin] himself. His assets have been frozen and he’s currently in the process of trying to find a buyer for Chelsea Football Club.
“A source close to Mr. Abramovich said it wasn’t clear who had targeted the group, but another newspaper, which broke this story, said that the Ukrainian side suspected the attack was carried out by hardliners in Moscow who, they said, wanted to sabotage talks to end this war.”