Navalny accuses Putin of his alleged poisoning 2:54

Washington (CNN) -- The wife of Ukraine's top military intelligence official has been hospitalized for apparent heavy metal poisoning, according to Ukrainian and Western officials.

Marianna Budanova is the wife of Kyrylo Budanov, whose military intelligence agency GUR has been deeply involved in Ukraine's efforts to drive Russia from its territory. And now Western officials suspect that Russian agents may have paid a staff member to carry out the poisoning.

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According to Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukrainian Defense Intelligence, test results reveal that Ukrainian Defense Intelligence personnel also fell ill, and Ukraine is investigating the situation.

U.S. and Western intelligence services have not independently verified the poisoning but believe Ukrainian reports are accurate, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

The severity of Budanova's condition was not immediately apparent. According to the GUR representative, she has been hospitalized for a week and had been feeling unwell for some time before entering the medical center. A Defense Intelligence source told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information has not been made public, that Budanova tested positive for arsenic and mercury. CNN has reached out to Budanova for comment.


Dr. Edward Boyer, chief of the division of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said that without a more detailed knowledge of test results and patients' medical history — including their symptoms and possible exposure to certain foods — it's impossible to judge the likelihood that any of the victims were deliberately poisoned.

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"What's going to be really important to find out are the actual symptoms. Different metals have different toxicities associated with them," Boyer said. "It's important to get not only a history of environmental exposure, but also a history of food intake, along with actual symptoms."

Russia – and the Soviet Union before that – is notorious for carrying out extraterritorial poisonings against its enemies. In England in 2018, Russian envoys used a nerve agent to poison Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for British intelligence agencies. In the 1950s, the KGB used thallium — a heavy metal used in rat poisons and insecticides — to poison one of its own agents who defected to the United States.

During talks between Ukraine and Russia in March 2022 in Turkey, a Russian billionaire and two Ukrainian negotiators suffered mild skin peeling and eye pain, a source close to the Ukrainian negotiating team told CNN at the time. Although initial reports indicated that they were poisoned, later reports indicated that it was due to an environmental factor, not poisoning.