Veteran reformer and former Kremlin climate envoy Anatoly Chubais has been hospitalized with a suspected rare neurological disorder, several reports have said.
Chubais, 67, quit his post and left Russia in March — the highest-level resignation of its kind following President Vladimir Putin’s orders to invade Ukraine. He gained notoriety in post-Soviet Russia for overseeing painful economic reforms under former President Boris Yeltsin and holding several high-profile posts since the early 1990s.
Chubais was placed in intensive care in an undisclosed European hospital with Guillain-Barre syndrome, family friend and television personality Ksenia Sobchak cited him as saying on her Telegram channel Sunday.
He told Sobchak he was in “moderately severe” but “stable” condition.
Sobchak cited his wife, Avdotya Smirnova, as saying that he fell ill suddenly, with numbness in his arms and legs.
Guillain-Barre is a syndrome in which the immune system damages the peripheral nervous system and causes rapid-onset muscle weakness. The cause of the disease is not yet known and recovery can take years.
Chubais was hospitalized in the coastal city of Olbia while on a rumored vacation in Sardinia, Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily reported Monday.
A history of suspected poisoning cases against Putin foes and reports of authorities in hazmat suits searching his room have sparked speculation that Chubais may have been poisoned.
“I don’t think it is poisoning,” Reuters quoted an unnamed source close to Chubais as saying.
The Kremlin called the reports of Chubais’ hospitalization “sad news” Monday and wished him a speedy recovery. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it had not received any appeals for assistance from Chubais.
Citing unnamed sources, the state-run TASS news agency reported Sunday that Chubais’ condition had improved.
Chubais was a powerful figure in the early 1990s as the overseer of Russia’s controversial privatization drive and transition to a market economy. He famously brought Putin into the Kremlin, giving him his first job in Moscow, and had managed to stay in favor through more than two decades of Putin’s rule as many other leading figures from the Yeltsin era were pushed out.
As the Kremlin’s climate envoy, Chubais attempted to push Russia to adopt more green policies in the face of fierce domestic opposition, a powerful energy lobby and a president who has previously questioned the manmade nature of climate change.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has yielded almost no public opposition from the country’s political elite, with Putin branding those who oppose the war “traitors and scum.”