Mariana Budanova: The wife of a senior Ukrainian military intelligence official was hospitalized due to heavy metal poisoning

Vyacheslav Ratynsky/Reuters/Archive

In this photo taken in January 2023, Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kirylo Budanov and his wife Marianna attend a memorial service for the Ukrainian Interior Minister, his deputy and officials who died in a helicopter crash near the Ukrainian capital, amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, in Kiev.


The wife of a senior Ukrainian military intelligence official has been hospitalized after suffering heavy metal poisoning, according to Ukrainian and Western officials.

Mariana Budanova is the wife of Kirilo Budanov, whose military intelligence agency GUR was heavily involved in Ukraine’s efforts to expel Russia from its territory, and Western officials immediately suspected that Russian agents may have paid an employee to carry out the poisoning. .

Test results show that Ukrainian defense intelligence personnel have also been infected with the disease, according to Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the agency, and Ukraine is investigating the situation.

US and Western intelligence officials have not independently verified the poisoning, but they believe the Ukrainian reports are accurate, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

The seriousness of Budanova’s condition was not immediately apparent. According to a GUR representative, she was hospitalized for a week and felt bad for some time before being admitted to the hospital. Budanova tested positive for arsenic and mercury, a defense intelligence source told CNN, on the condition of anonymity because the information had not been made public. CNN has reached out to Budanova for comment.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” Tuesday evening that it was “very likely that Russia was behind this” but that he “did not make any official conclusions.”

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“It would be too early for me to come to any conclusions, but when you’re fighting a ferocious enemy like Russia, you have to be prepared for anything, and Russia has proven itself many times before as a country that uses poison as a means of killing.” “Her opponents and enemies,” Kuleba told Burnett.

It is certain that our intelligence chief is an enemy of Russia, like all of us. He continued: All those fighting against Russia. “So it’s very possible that Russia is behind this, but I’m not making any official conclusions, so I’m leaving that to the experts to make.”

Without a more detailed understanding of test results and a patient’s history — including symptoms and possible exposure to specific foods — it’s impossible to judge the likelihood of any disease occurring, said Dr. Edward Boyer, chairman of the department of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Of the victims were intentionally poisoned.

“What will be really important to find out is the actual symptoms. Different metals have different toxicities associated with them,” Boyer said. “It’s important to get not only an environmental exposure history, but also a food intake history, along with honest-to-goodness symptoms.”

It is known that Russia – and the Soviet Union before that – carries out poisoning operations outside its territory against its enemies. In England in 2018, Russian agents 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 – the heavy metal used in rat poisons and pesticides – to poison one of its agents who defected to the United States.

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During the March 2022 Ukrainian-Russian talks in Turkey, a Russian billionaire and two Ukrainian negotiators suffer “Slight peeling of the skin and pain in the eyes,” a source close to the Ukrainian negotiating team told CNN at the time. While initial reports indicated they were poisoned, later reports indicated that their illness was due to an environmental factor and not poisoning.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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