Ukraine Chief Spy's Wife 'Poisoned With Heavy Metals'

Ukraine Chief Spy’s Wife ‘Poisoned With Heavy Metals’

The wife of the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency has been hospitalized after being poisoned, Ukrainian media reported on Tuesday.

Marianna Budanova, the wife of influential Ukrainian commander Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, who heads up Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, or the HUR, within the country’s defense ministry, was “poisoned with heavy metals.” She is now receiving treatment in a medical facility, Ukrainian outlet Babel reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed intelligence sources. A spokesperson for the HUR confirmed the report to The Kyiv Independent and several other domestic outlets.

There has been no official comment from Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, and Newsweek has not been able to confirm the media reports independently. Newsweek has reached out to Ukrainian officials via email on Tuesday.

The substances reportedly used against Budanova are “in no way used in everyday life and military affairs,” an anonymous source from Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence told Babel. “Their presence may indicate a deliberate attempt to poison a particular person.”

Chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov (right), during a presentation on September 5, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Budanov’s wife, Marianna Budanova (left). Budanova, was “poisoned with heavy metals” and is now receiving treatment in a medical facility, according to Ukrainian media reports.
Viktor Kovalchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images/ Marianna Budanov/ YouTube
Ukrainian media also reported that “several other intelligence officers” had been poisoned, without providing additional details.

Ukraine’s intelligence community has previously named Budanov as the target of several failed assassination attempts. In early June 2023, a HUR spokesperson told Ukrainska Pravda that there had been at least 10 attempts on Budanov’s life.

Russian media have amplified false reports of Budanov’s death, including claims that Budanov was killed in a missile attack earlier this year. Budanov has laughed off the reports, telling The Kyiv Post that “the Russians and their propagandists will still have a lot of work to do in a nervous, hysterical environment.”

“It’s like a compliment for me,” Budanov told London’s The Times in July 2023 about Moscow’s repeated reported attempts to assassinate him.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine swept into the country in late February 2022, Budanov moved his wife into his office, The Washington Post reported in January.

Budanov had predicted the start of the full-scale invasion ahead of Russian troops crossing the border, and has risen to become a high-profile and trusted voice in Kyiv. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in early September by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Budanov also admitted in an interview aired in May 2023 that Kyiv had assassinated several prominent Russian propagandists, saying Ukraine had “successfully targeted quite a few people” associated with Kremlin-backed media.

Update 11/28/23, 5:50 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

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