Anatoly Chubais, ex-adviser to Putin, hospitalized in Italy for neurological symptoms

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Italian authorities are examining the case of a former senior Russian official who was hospitalized in Sardinia this week after suffering neurological symptoms, Italian media reported on Wednesday.

Anatoly Chubais, who resigned as Kremlin climate envoy shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, was in intensive care after suddenly falling ill at a resort on the island.

According to Ksenia Sobchak, a Russian television personality identified by the Associated Press as a family friend, Chubais was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy nerves.

Symptoms include tingling in the feet or hands, muscle weakness, and difficulty seeing, speaking, or eating. However, Italian authorities, including Sardinia’s prosecutor, are awaiting test results to definitively rule out poisoning, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Chubais’ symptoms include partial facial paralysis and loss of sensation in his arms and legs, Sobchak wrote in a Telegram post on Wednesday that featured a photo of the 67-year-old in a hospital bed.

The prosecutor’s office and the Mater Olbia hospital where he is being treated did not immediately respond to requests for comment. There is no clear public evidence that Chubais was poisoned – and Sobchak, the daughter of a former mentor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, dismissed the reports as speculation.

But his sudden symptoms recalled several instances where former Russian spies or prominent dissidents fell suddenly ill – and were later found to have ingested radioactive material or a military-grade nerve agent.

Who is Anatoly Chubais, the most senior official to cut ties with the Kremlin since the invasion of Ukraine?

UN experts last year blamed the Russian government for the near-fatal poisoning of leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday called Chubais’ hospitalization “sad news” and said the Kremlin had no details of what happened.

In March, Chubais became the most senior official to cut ties with the Kremlin after the invasion of Ukraine. He left his post and reports at the time indicated that he had fled the country.

A member of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s cabinet after the fall of the Soviet Union, Chubais is known as one of the few Russian reformers of the 1990s who remained in politics during Putin’s presidency, despite not was not considered part of Putin’s inner life. circle.

He became unpopular among Russians for championing the loan-for-equity privatization deal in the mid-1990s that gave birth to the Russian oligarchs. Chubais is also said to have supported Putin’s career development, and Putin gave him a job as a sustainability adviser after he was fired from a state-owned nanotech company in December 2020.

In late February, Chubais took to Facebook to commemorate the anniversary of the murder of pro-democracy politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot in 2015 after criticizing Putin’s annexation of Crimea. Avdotya Smirnova, Chubais’ wife, that month signed an open letter from philanthropists to Putin opposing the war in Ukraine.

Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.

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