Russia denies say in Arafat’s poisoning claim
The country’s foreign office dismissed the allegation today, stressing that the Palestinian government had the final say in the case of alleged poisoning of the Palestinian Authority’s late leader and co-founder, Yasser Arafat.
“Our stance on the results of Yasser Arafat’s exhumation remains as follows: it’s up to the Palestinian authority to announce corresponding information,” a source with Russia’s foreign ministry stated Tuesday. However he refused to expand on the issue.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Federal Medical and Biological Agency denounced reports alleging that it had commented on the results of the probe into Arafat’s suspected poisoning with toxic polonium-210.
The first and longtime leader of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat died in a French military hospital outside Paris on November 11, 2004. He is remembered for contributing to peace talks with Israel, a peace effort that won him the 1994 Nobel peace prize.
Last year, al-Jazeera published a report saying that Arafat’s belongings and samples of urine, saliva and blood had traces of radioactive polonium in them, prompting an international investigation into the possible case of his poisoning.
The poisoning with polonium could not be the cause of death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Vladimir Uiba, the head of Russia's Federal Medical-Biological Agency said.
"He could not have been poisoned with polonium. Russian experts, who conducted the test, have not found traces of this substance," Uyba said.
Federal Medical Biological Agency experts have conducted detailed tests of Arafat's remains and they regularly inform the Russian Interior Ministry on the course of the investigation, Uyba said.
Meanwhile AFP later reported that Russia's Federal Medical-Biological Agency denied issuing any conclusions about the death of Yasser Arafat.
A recognized medical magazine Lancet has published an article whose authors claim that the results of tests of Arafat's personal belongings and remains held by European scientists showed that the radioactive substance polonium-210 was found on his personal belongings and in samples of biological fluids.
Further more the authors of the article conclude that the Palestinian leader could have been poisoned with polonium.
Officially, Arafat died of a massive stroke on November 11, 2003 in France. Arafat, the founder of the Palestinian National Authority, was presented the Nobel Prize for his participation in peace talks with Israel.
A British medical journal has revealed a sensational report endorsing the claim that Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, was poisoned with highly radioactive polonium.
According to The Lancet, Swiss scientists conducted a radiological test that found abnormal levels of deadly Polonium-210 in Arafat’s blood, urine and saliva, which is de facto proof that the founder of the Palestinian national administration was killed by poison.
The official cause of the Nobel peace prize winner's death was allegedly a cerebral hemorrhage he suffered on November 11, 2004.
A Swiss study of Arafat’s belongings and clothes in 2012 revealed traces of Polonium-210. The Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, France, later confirmed that the Palestinian leader had been exposed to lethal amounts of the radioactive element.
A French court used these findings to open a case on Yasser Arafat’s poisoning. His body was exhumed on November 27, 2012 following a request from Arafat’s wife, Suha Arafat.
The samples were distributed between Russian, Swiss and French experts who were to check them for radioactive substances.
Yasser Arafat was the chairman the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), leader of the PLO’s political party Fatah, Palestine’s commander-in-chief and President of the Palestinian National Autonomy, a long litany of titles that identified Arafat as a leading figure in the region and globally.
Arafat was a very controversial politician who evoked both positive and negative sentiments. For some he was a peacemaker and leader, for others, a terrorist or traitor. His personality cult began to wane after his death, but it won’t vanish any time soon, since Arafat remains a symbol of the Palestinian fight for statehood.
Contrary to popular belief, Arafat’s rivals within the PLO would have won more from his death than Israel. Many experts on the Middle East share the opinion that Israel would have hardly profited from killing the ailing Palestinian leader.
Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Russian-based Middle East Institute, earlier told the Voice of Russia: “Arafat’s wife Suha was the first to suggest poisoning and accuse the Palestinian leadership, in particular Abu Masen [Mahmoud Abbas], of murdering him. The accusations came on the heels of his death and I think she knew what she was talking about. At the end of his life, Arafat started removing his close allies who attempted to negotiate with different sponsors, including Gulf monarchies, where Palestine would head after Arafat’s death".
"These talks proved fatal for Faisal Al-Husseini, the nephew of Jerusalem’s grand mufti. To let Arafat live meant to put your own life at stake. So, I can readily believe in his poisoning, but Israel had nothing to do with it. There was no reason for them to poison Arafat. The effort was simply not worth it. They could have eliminated him much more easily in any other way”.
The killing record of the highly toxic radioactive element Polonium-210 dates back to the death of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian immigrant and protégé of Russia’s tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who was allegedly poisoned in London in 2006.
Swiss scientists studied the traces of Polonium on Litvinenko’s belongings and compared them to the samples from Arafat’s possessions that were contaminated to an estimated lethal level by this radioactive element. A spokesman from the Lausanne institute, Darcy Christen, told the Voice of Russia: “We found Polonium-210, and it didn’t come from natural sources, but I’d like to stress that we never suggested poisoning as a possible cause. We only stated the presence of hazardous substances on Arafat’s clothes. Arafat’s widow has turned to a French court and it’s up to them whether to initiate a case”.
Voice of Russia, Interfax, AFP, dpa