Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who was spotted at peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in İstanbul on Tuesday, was treated secretly at a hospital in Ankara after he developed health problems caused by a smoke bomb in Kyiv, the CNN Türk news website reported on Thursday.
Reports recently surfaced suggesting that Abramovich, who is known to have spent weeks in the role of mediator, flying between Moscow and Kyiv, and two Ukrainian negotiators had shown symptoms of poisoning after talks in early March.
The Chelsea football club owner was said to have suffered sore eyes and peeling skin but has now recovered, reports said.
CNN Türk reported that Abramovich traveled to Kyiv following the first round of talks between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in the southern Turkish province of Antalya in early March, to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Following his meeting with Zelensky, Abramovich left the house where he was staying in Kyiv along with four others when they were affected by a smoke bomb that exploded in an area close to them.
Abramovich and the four others developed sore eyes and peeling skin and immediately traveled to Ankara, where they were taken to the Ankara City Hospital for treatment. They were treated in a private room and their hospital records were sealed.
According to CNN Türk, Abramovich thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the treatment he received in Ankara during Tuesday’s meeting in İstanbul.
A Wall Street Journal report suggested he and the Ukrainian negotiators had been targeted by Russian hardliners in Kyiv on March 3, but a Ukrainian presidential official later said the two Ukrainians were fine and one had said the story was false.
The exact nature of Abramovich’s role during Tuesday’s talks was unclear, although Ukrainian media said he was there as a neutral party.
A Kremlin spokesman said he was not an official member of the Russian delegation in İstanbul but had been involved in facilitating contacts between the two delegations.
Abramovich was among the individuals listed under new sanctions adopted by the European Union earlier this month.
Two luxury superyachts owned by Abramovich docked in Turkey earlier this month as Turkey did not join the European sanctions against Moscow targeting him and other oligarchs.