Two Russian exiles ‘poisoned’ at conference organised by Kremlin critic


Police are investigating the suspected poisoning of two Russian exiles who attended a conference in Germany organised by a high-profile Kremlin critic.

Detectives in Berlin said a “file had been opened” after two women reported symptoms suggesting a possible poisoning, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported, citing Russian investigative media group Agentstvo.

The conference was arranged by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oligarch-turned-dissident who was once one of Russia’s richest men.

Police gave no further details, citing ongoing investigations.

Women attended conference in Berlin

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The media reports said one of the women was a journalist and her symptoms may have already appeared before the conference on 29 and 30 April. She went to the Charite hospital in Berlin.

The second woman was Natalia Arno, director of the NGO Free Russia Foundation. She wrote on her Facebook page that she found the door to her hotel room had been left ajar.

She also wrote: “I woke up at 5 am, suffering sharp pain and strange symptoms.”

Several poison attacks have been carried out abroad and in Russia against Kremlin opponents in recent years.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was treated in Russia and later in Germany for what Western laboratory tests showed was an attempt to poison him with a nerve agent in Siberia in 2020.

The government in Moscow has denied accusations.

Gathering was organised by Mikhail Khodorkovsky

(Getty Images)

Mr Navalny voluntarily returned to Russia in 2021 from Germany. He was arrested in January of that year and has been in prison since.

Mr Khodorkovsky, who made his fortune during the Yeltsin era, had his wings clipped by Russian president Vladimir Putin for criticising the regime in the early 2000s.

He was arrested on tax fraud charges after attempting to sell a stake in his oil company Yukos to ExxonMobil, the US oil and gas giant.

He was jailed in May 2005 and not released until December 2013. He later moved to the UK.

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