01/12/2006

Mystery surrounds former Russian Prime Minister's illness

A former Russian acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar is being treated in hospital following what may be some form of poisoning.

Mr Gaidar, who was premiere for a time under the Boris Yeltsin regime, fell ill during a visit to Dublin last week and was treated at a Dublin hospital before being moved to Russia.

His daughter Maria Gaidar is reported to have told reporters that she believes her father has been poisoned.

Yegor Gaidar, 50, an opponent of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, heads a think-tank in Moscow that is highly critical of government economic policies.

He suffered a nose bleed and vomited before fainting in Dublin on Friday November 24. It is understood that no medical reason has been found for his illness and poisoning is suspected.

While Irish government sources claim that nothing suspicious has been uncovered, Irish police continue to investigate the case.

A post-mortem examination is to be conducted on the body of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko who died in a London hospital after he was poisoned with a radioactive substance.

A major investigation into the poisoning has revealed traces of radioactivity at the restaurant where he ate, as well as a number of other locations in the capital.

Two BA aircraft were grounded at Heathrow over suspicion that they were contaminated - one has since returned to service; a third is to be tested on its return from Moscow.

(SP/KMcA)

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