Russia denies issuing conclusions over Arafat's death

Russia denies issuing conclusions over Arafat's death

MOSCOW - The Russian agency involved in studying the remains of Yasser Arafat on Tuesday denied issuing any conclusions about the death of the Palestinian leader, after a report cited its chief as saying he could not have died from polonium poisoning.

Russia's Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) was one of three international institutes involved in exhuming Arafat's remains in November 2012.

Interfax earlier quoted FMBA head Vladimir Uiba as saying he doubted a report published in The Lancet at the weekend saying that Swiss radiation experts had found traces of polonium on Arafat's clothing.

The Swiss team said its findings "support the possibility" the veteran Palestinian leader, who died in November 2004, was poisoned.

"He could not have been poisoned by polonium," Uiba was quoted as saying by Interfax. "The Russian experts who conducted the investigation did not find traces of this substance."

However, the FMBA quickly denied that Uiba had ever issued such a statement to Interfax.

"We have not publicised any official results of our forensic review," a spokesman for the agency told AFP, reading from an official statement.

"Neither have we publicly confirmed nor denied media reports about there being or not being polonium in Arafat's remains."

Pressed to explain the Interfax report, the spokesman said: "There was no statement."

The deputy editor of Interfax's political news section stood by the story, saying Uiba made his comments in a sit-down interview.

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