Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich Hospitalized for Suspected Poisoning

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by blueapples
Monday, Mar 28, 2022 - 17:00

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has become somewhat of a figurehead of the Russian oligarchy. While that title has seen him and other magnates of industry across Russia become the targets of sanctions fledged by western nations, that isn't the only thing Abramovich has been targeted by. Abramovich was hospitalized following his participation as an emissary in peace negotiations that took place earlier this month in Kyiv.

According to reports, two other participants of Ukrainian delegation who attended the peace talks also fell ill with the same symptoms experienced by Abramovich. Each of the representatives to fall ill experienced red eyes, skin-peeling, and loss of vision. Sources stated that Abramovich lost his sight for several hours and had to be hospitalized in Turkey, where he has sought refuge in to escape property seizures resulting from sanctions that the UK government has specifically targeted him under. When he did so, Putin reportedly told Abramovich to relay a message of his own to the Ukrainian delegation: "Tell them I will crush them."

Those revealing the suspected case of poisoning have been quick to blame Abramovich's illness on pro-Russian hardliners who they allege did so to disrupt the ongoing peace talks. Abramovich did meet with Ukrainian President Volodomy Zelensky during negotiations, meaning that any would-be assassins certainly wouldn't have been making the most of the meeting. He also was reported to have met with Vladimir Putin afterward -- even extending a hand-written note by Zelensky to the Russian President.

Despite assigning blame to Russian interests, those alleging that Abramovich had been poisoning didn't reference any toxicology reports even though the oligarch was reportedly hospitalized due to the severity of his illness. As a basis on comparison, when former Russian Federal Security Service ("FSB") officer Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London, toxicology reports attributed the radiation poisoning that he died from to polonium-210. Though the toxicology exam done to Litivenko's occurred posthumously, his widow also testing positive for the radioactive agent despite not ever being ill-enough to need hospitalization.

Litvinenko's poisoning became another installment in a series of events in the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the UK in Russia that helped cultivate the political climate which has led to be Abramovich being sanctioned. Following an investigation into Litvinenko's assassination, the European Court of Human Rights deemed that Russian political and state security figures Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun poisoned him. Investigators also implicated Russian President Vladimir Putin as having a hand in the assassination despite not identifying any proof to that effect. Instead, investigators cited the tenuous relationship between the two that dated back to when Putin was the head of the FSB from July 1998 to March 1999. Representatives of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny also allege that Putin had him poisoned on multiple occasions during his prison sentence.

Abramovich has apparently made a full recovery in the few weeks since he was alleged to be poisoned. Since then, he has removed himself from ongoing negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. Now, his focus turns to completing the sale of Chelsea FC, the West London based football club which he took over in 2003. Abramovich's ownership of Chelsea over the last 19 years has seen the club reach the apex of its history, winning several English Premier League titles, two UEFA Champions League championships, and several other trophies.

The sanctions targeting Abramovich have also affected the day-to-day operations of Chelsea FC, with the UK government taking stringent oversight of its finances and enforcing spending limits as well as forbidding the sale of apparel and tickets. Those actions expedited Abramovich's decision to sell the club. Chelsea has recently accepted multiple bids and will present its selected bidder to the Premier League hierarchy for approval on April 18th.

Though the sale of Chelsea will likely be finalized within the next month, the rest of Abramovich's future is much more uncertain. With no clear sight of a resolution in Ukraine, the sanctions crippling the oligarch will likely remain in place even after any end to the conflict. Given the reports of his suspected poisoning and his choice to align himself with the Ukrainian government, it doesn't appear that a return to Russia is in his future either.

Although, it wouldn't be fair to characterize Abramovich as a man without a country per sey as he has citizenship in both Portugal and Israel granted to him because of his Sephardic and/or Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. However, traveling to an EU member state in Portugal may not be feasible given the scope of the sanctions he faces. For now, he remains in Turkey seeking a safe haven amidst the turmoil emanating from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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