Russian-appointed Kherson mayor ‘was poisoned by chef’

·2 min read
Vladimir Saldo (second left) was rushed to a hospital in Simferopol, Crimea - Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Vladimir Saldo (second left) was rushed to a hospital in Simferopol, Crimea - Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Russian-appointed mayor of Kherson was poisoned by a chef brought into his household a day before he fell ill, Russian opposition media has reported.

It was reported that, on Aug 3, Vladimir Saldo “became ill, his mind began to cloud and his fingertips went numb” after he ate food prepared by the chef.

Mr Saldo was rushed to a hospital in Simferopol, Crimea, 170 miles south of Kherson city, where doctors put him into a coma and flew him to Moscow. He is now on a ventilator in the Sklifosovsky Emergency Research Institute.

Doctors are waiting for his toxicology reports, although regional officials denied he had been poisoned.

“Five months non-stop under bullets and Grads. The man was simply overtired. The diagnosis is fatigue,” said Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Kherson administration.

Ukrainian partisans have targeted pro-Russia collaborators in the Kherson region, which Russian forces captured without a fight in the first days of the invasion of Ukraine in February.

Assassins have killed at least three senior regional officials including the deputy mayor of the town of Nova Khakhova, who was shot dead on Saturday.

Ukrainian forces are planning an offensive to retake the region, and the assassination of collaborationist officials will disrupt Russian defence plans.

Kremlin critics have previously accused Vladimir Putin of killing his enemies with poison, but in Italy Anatoly Chubais, a Kremlin insider who fled Moscow after the invasion, left hospital a week after being admitted for suspected poisoning.

Doctors at the Mater Olbia Hospital in Sardinia have not yet released his toxicology results. He was diagnosed as suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease caused by the immune system attacking the nervous system.

“He feels better,” doctors told the La Repubblica newspaper, which reported that Mr Chubais had walked out of the hospital unassisted and taken a flight to Frankfurt, where he intended to check into a rehabilitation clinic.

The 67-year-old was Mr Putin’s climate change envoy and is regarded as the highest-ranked Kremlin official to leave Russia since the start of the war. He has been careful not to criticise the Kremlin since leaving Moscow in March, but Putin has described Russians who fled as “traitors”.