Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, who still owns the English football club Chelsea despite sanctions again his country of origin and fellow nationals, has been said to show signs of poisoning after taking part in peace talks in Kyiv earlier this month, although his life is not at risk.
According to The Wall Street Journal, after a meeting in the Ukrainian capital, Abramovich, who has traveled from Moscow, Lviv and other negotiating locations, as well as 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.
Press reports pointed fingers at members of a most radical wing within the Kremlin for the March 3 alleged poisoning.
According to The Times, the Chelsea owner allegedly went to Istanbul last Wednesday to meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow, to whom he handed a handwritten note from Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky. Putin's reply was blunt: Tell them I will crush them.
Abramovich is in the midst of a financial crisis totally unexpected for him a few months ago, as the British government froze his assets because of his closeness to Putin and he is also unable to sell Chelsea, the club he has owned since 2003.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss explained that the freezing of the Russian tycoon's assets amounts to £ 15 billion, while British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, assured: There can be no safe havens for those who supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In addition to Abramovich, two members of the Ukrainian delegation were also said to have suffered from different symptoms such as red eyes, peeling skin on the face and hands, as well as constant tearing.
According to TWSJ, the symptoms began in the early hours of March 3 to 4, right after the first round of negotiations, during which Abramovich and his entourage reportedly consumed only water and chocolate, but a fourth person, who consumed the same, had no symptoms.
Both Abramovich's health and that of the two Ukrainian officials improved in recent days and their lives are not in danger. Among those affected is also Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov.
However, the episode brings back memories of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who began to feel ill Aug. 20 during a flight that had to make an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk, where he was initially hospitalized.
It was finally established that Navalny had been poisoned with a substance used in the production of chemical weapons and belonging to the Novichok group of toxic agents, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said based on tests carried out by the German government.