Former Russian intelligence officer claims he was poisoned when he started investigating Russian mercenary groups
A former officer in one of Russia’s intelligence agencies told the independent television network Dozhd that he survived an attempted poisoning in August 2018. The man, who only agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, suspects that he was targeted because he was investigating the activities of various private military companies.
The officer says he started investigating information about mercenary casualties after one of his close friends died in eastern Ukraine. Afterwards, he began to receive threats and then in August someone attacked him in the elevator at his apartment building. As the doors were closing, someone sprayed an odorless gas into the elevator compartment. The officer says he believes it was a nerve agent.
The man says he administered himself an “antidote” and then went to the hospital, where he spent the next three days. Doctors reportedly treated him for organophosphorus poisoning, noting that exposure to psychotropic substances could have produced similar symptoms. Without any witnesses or traces of the gas, the police have refused to open a criminal investigation.
Dozhd reports that Mediazona publisher and Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov was hospitalized on September 11 with similar symptoms. Doctors in Germany later determined that he was likely poisoned. Verzilov himself says he believes he was poisoned by a Russian intelligence agency. The activist had planned to accompany three documentary filmmakers to the Central African Republic in July to capture evidence of Russian mercenary activities in the country. After the murder of those three men, Verzilov launched an independent investigation into their deaths and was reportedly expecting preliminary results just before he became ill.