The wife of Ukraine’s head spymaster was poisoned with heavy metals and is receiving treatment in hospital, according to multiple spokespeople for the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine, also known as the GUR.
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Marianna Budanova is the wife of Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, who leads the military intelligence agency. GUR has been prominently involved in clandestine operations against Russian forces since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022.
“Yes, I can confirm the information, unfortunately, it is true,” GUR spokesperson Andriy Yusov told Reuters, without clarifying when the poisoning took place.
Another spokesperson for the GUR, Andriy Chernyak, confirmed to the New York Times that Budanova had been poisoned and was undergoing treatment.
Budanova developed symptoms from the poisoning first but “several other employees were confirmed to have been poisoned,” sources told Ukrainska Pravda. “They are just bigger-built, so they didn’t notice any signs of it; they are now receiving treatment.”
The sources added that Budanova was “most likely poisoned through food.”
Media outlet Babel reported that the heavy metals used to poison the spymaster’s wife are “not used in any way in everyday life and military affairs,” which suggests “a purposeful attempt to poison a specific person,” citing a GUR official.
The source also said that Budanova has completed the first round of treatment.
If confirmed as deliberate, the purported poisoning of Budanov’s wife would represent the most serious targeting of a high-profile Ukrainian leadership figure’s family member during the 21-month-long war.
Budanov’s public profile has risen in Ukraine and the West, where he is portrayed as a behind-the-scenes mastermind of operations to strike back at Russia. In Russian media, he is a largely hated figure.
The 37-year-old has himself been the target of several attempts on his life, including a botched car bombing that left him seriously injured.
Ukrainska Pravda reported earlier this year that the young general has been the target of over 10 Russian assassination attempts.
“We know for sure that there were more than 10 attempts,” GUR spokesperson Andriy Yusov told the outlet. “Budanov is one of the important targets for the ‘Russian world,’ Russian propaganda and the ruling regime of Putin.”
Budanov himself revealed in an interview with Radio Svoboda that he and his wife live in his office, and that the couple are always together for security purposes.
— With files from Reuters
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