Hospitalized Russian official who stepped down after Ukraine invasion feared to have been poisoned

After stepping down as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s international climate envoy and leaving the country shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, a top official’s sudden illness smacked of retaliatory poisoning.

On Sunday, journalist Ksenia Sobchak, herself a former Russian presidential candidate, took to her Telegram account to report the sudden hospitalization of 67-year-old Anatoly Chubais. Speaking from an undisclosed location somewhere in Europe, the politician was able to report a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome, according to CNN.

As the outlet detailed, Chubais spoke with Sobchak and was quoted as saying, “I was hospitalized in one of the European clinics with a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Condition of moderate severity, stable.”

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare disorder where the immune system attacks the body’s own nerves causing weakness and even paralysis. This was an apparent improvement from his wife Avdotya Smirnova’s assessment that Chubais’ “state is unstable. He felt bad very suddenly, he began to stop feeling the arms and legs.”

The politician had served the Russian government in some capacity since the 90s leading the privatization of the Russian economy as a deputy prime minister at the Kremlin before later running the electrical power monopoly RAO UES controlled by the state.

In March, the former international climate envoy left his post and Russia without stating a reason. The timing of his departure led many to suspect it was a statement of his opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. As such, suspicions surrounding his sudden illness were only heightened by the arrival of specialists in “chemical protection suits” investigating the room where his symptoms overtook him, according to The New York Times.

“In this case, the diagnosis may change,” Sobchak remarked, amid widespread speculation that Chubais was actually the victim of poisoning.

In 2020, Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny accused Putin of orchestrating a poisoning attempt on his life involving a near-fatal nerve agent attack that led the vocal critic to hospitalization. After recovering from the incident, he returned to Russia where he was detained and put on trial.

Since that time, Navalny has not faltered in his opposition to the Russian president and has remained a vocal detractor of the invasion of Ukraine. In March he was cited as saying, “Let’s at least not become a nation of frightened silent people. Of cowards who pretend not to notice the aggressive war against Ukraine unleashed by our obviously insane czar.”

He went on to add, “If in order to stop the war we have to fill prisons and paddy wagons with ourselves, we will fill prisons and paddy wagons with ourselves. Everything has a price, and now, in the spring of 2022, we must pay this price. There’s no one to do it for us. Let’s not ‘be against the war.’ Let’s fight against the war.”


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