Bellingcat investigators report the poisoning of Ukrainian-Russian negotiators. Among them is the oligarch Abramovich

Anna Kholodnova

Ukrainian MP Rustam Umerov, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and another Russian businessman who participated in Russian-Ukrainian negotiations on March 3-4 revealed symptoms of chemical poisoning, — announced BellingCat.

The negotiation round on the afternoon of 3 March took place on Ukrainian territory and lasted until about 10 pm.

Later that night, all three went to Kyiv and felt the first symptoms of inflammation of the eyes and skin and severe pain in the eyes. The symptoms did not subside until the morning. The next day, a group of negotiators went from Kyiv to Lviv, then to Poland and Turkey, where they continued negotiations.

The three men ate nothing but chocolate and water before the talks hours before the onset of symptoms. The fourth person, who was at the talks and also consumed chocolate and water, had no symptoms.

Bellingcat was asked to help provide an examination by chemical weapons specialists. Based on remote and on-site examinations, the experts concluded that the symptoms are most likely the result of international poisoning with an undefined chemical weapon. An alternative less likely hypothesis was the use of microwave irradiation. The symptoms gradually subsided in the course of the following week.

In particular, Rustam Umerov assures on his Facebook that he is fine.

According to two consulted experts and a doctor, the symptoms were most consistent with variants of porphyrin, organophosphates, or bicyclic substances. A definitive determination was not possible due to the absence of specialized laboratory equipment near the victims. Also, the experts said the dosage and type of toxin used were likely insufficient to cause life-threatening damage, and most likely was intended to scare the victims as opposed to cause permanent damage.

On March 27, President Volodymyr Zelensky, in an interview with Russian media, gave details about the course of negotiations with Russia.