Italian authorities have reportedly not yet ruled out poisoning in the case of a self-exiled top Kremlin official who suddenly fell ill over the weekend and had to be hospitalized.

Anatoly Chubais’ sudden departure from Russia in March—at the onset of Vladimir Putin’s so-called “special military operation” against Ukraine—was widely seen as a sign of opposition to the war by the influential Kremlin insider. He never publicly explained his reasons for leaving, but Bloomberg cited two anonymous sources at the time who said he had come out against the war.

After he made headlines by abruptly resigning as a high-ranking adviser to Putin and apparently fleeing to Europe, he had largely vanished from public view until reports broke last weekend that he’d been hospitalized with seemingly debilitating symptoms.

In comments to Russian journalist Ksenia Sobchak at the time, Chubais, 67, said he’d been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. Sobchak provided an update on his condition Wednesday, writing on Telegram that his diagnosis had been confirmed.

“His condition has stabilized, but Anatoly Borisovich is still in intensive care, his legs and arms do not work well, his eye will not close, he has partial facial paralysis,” Sobchak wrote, attributing the update to Chubais’ wife, Avdotya Smirnova.

The Italian newspaper L’Unione Sarda reported at the same time that Italian authorities are still probing the cause of Chubais’ sudden illness—and the intelligence services are said to be awaiting his blood test results in order to make sure he wasn’t poisoned.

The local prosecutor has questioned Chubais as part of the investigation, according to the report.

The former Rusnano CEO is said to have already shot down speculation that he’d been poisoned. “These are very understandable suspicions. But he doesn’t think so,” a source close to Chubais was quoted saying by the Financial Times this week, apparently hinting at the recent poisonings of Putin foe Alexei Navalny and former spy Sergei Skripal.

Chubais, a close ally of Putin since the 1990s, is a hugely influential figure in Russian politics—in 1996, he even gave Putin, then a nobody, his first job in the Kremlin.

Though the Kremlin publicly shrugged off his resignation and departure in March, Putin delivered a fiery speech that same month attacking Russians who choose the West over their homeland—using the exact same rhetoric he’d once used to blast Skripal.

“Any people, and particularly the Russian people, will always be able to tell the patriots from the scum and traitors and spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin said, before cheering on the “self-cleansing” he said was happening in Russian society.

His spokesman later clarified that the “purification” described by Putin referred to Russians who “are disappearing from our lives by themselves,” be it by emigrating or resigning from their positions.



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