Ukraine spy chief’s wife ill in suspected poisoning

The wife of Ukraine’s spy chief, Lt Gen Kyrylo Budanov, is being treated in hospital for suspected poisoning with heavy metals, a Ukrainian intelligence source has confirmed to the BBC.

Marianna Budanova had fallen ill, the source said, giving no further information about whether anyone else was being treated.

Several Ukrainian media outlets earlier published similar information.

Ukraine’s military intelligence has not publicly commented on the reports.

The reports did not say whether or not Russia was thought to be behind the alleged attack.

Ukraine’s Ukrainska Pravda news website said several other intelligence officials had also been poisoned. However, there were no suggestions that Gen Budanov may also have been targeted.

The general, who leads the Main Directorate of Intelligence (DIU) of Ukraine’s defence ministry, has played a key role in planning and sometimes executing major military operations against Russian forces, following Moscow’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

News website Babel, which on Tuesday was the first to report the alleged poisoning, said Mrs Budanova had been taken to hospital after feeling unwell for a “prolonged period of time”.

Citing its own sources in Ukrainian intelligence, Babel said she was now completing a course of treatment and would be monitored by doctors.

No detail has been given of the type of heavy metal suspected in Mrs Budanova’s poisoning. However, the unnamed official made clear the substances were “not used in any way in everyday life or military operations”.

Ukraine's military intelligence chief Gen Kyrylo Budanov. File photo
Image caption,

Gen Budanov said earlier this year that he and Marianna Budanova had lived in his office since February 2022 for safety reasons

Ukrainska Pravda later quoted its own sources as saying the poisoning had been confirmed after tests.

She had most likely been given poisoned food, it reported, but was now “feeling better” after completing an initial course of treatment.

Separately, Ukraine’s Unian news agency quoted its source as saying that Mrs Budanova was being treated in a hospital in Ukraine, not abroad.

Mrs Budanova – born in 1993 in Kyiv – has a master’s degree in psychology. She later became involved in politics, working as an adviser to the mayor of Kyiv.

In 2022, she told Elle magazine that she had also worked as a volunteer in Kyiv’s military hospital in 2015-17.

In September, Lt Gen Budanov, 37, told the War Zone website that he and his wife had been staying in his office “since the February invasion” in 2022 for safety reasons.

“She’s [Marianna] actually a professor at our national police academy. She’s teaching legal psychology. It’s not a problem for her as it might have been for someone else.”

Senior intelligence directorate official Andriy Yusov told Ukrainska Pravda earlier this year that more than 10 assassination attempts had been made against Gen Budanov.

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