Members of the delegation that attended peace talks between Ukraine and Russia developed symptoms of suspected poisoning after a meeting in Kiev earlier this month, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and at least two senior members of the Ukrainian team, including Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, have been affected, according to the newspaper, quoting people familiar with the matter.
It is said that the members of the delegation showed symptoms that included red eyes, constant and painful tearing and skin on their faces and hands. Those affected have since improved their health, and their lives are not in danger, according to the report.
Investigators for the open-source collective Bellingcat were also involved in obtaining the Journal’s report.
Bellingcat said its sources confirmed the events, citing experts who investigated the case and concluded that “poisoning with an undefined chemical weapon” is the most likely cause.
The experts said the choice of toxin and dose indicated that it was “most likely intended to scare the victims, as opposed to permanent damage.”
The Wall Street Journal said it was not clear who was behind the suspected poisoning, but said those targeted blamed the hard-liners in Moscow for disrupting the negotiations.
On Monday on the report, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said: “There is a lot of speculation, several conspiracy theories,” according to Reuters.
Reuters reported that Umerov, cited in the Journal report as one of the targets of the suspected poisoning, urged people not to trust “unverified information”.
The Kremlin did not comment on the report.
Abramovich is a billionaire Russian businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and is one of many oligarchs under Western sanctions.
Last week, the Journal reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had asked US President Joe Biden not to include Abramovich in Western sanctions, arguing that Russia could help negotiate a peace deal.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.