Tests Confirm Thallium Poisoning Of U.S. Women Who Took Trip To Russia

Friday, March 9th 2007, 7:34 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Tests confirmed Friday that two American women hospitalized after they became ill on a trip to Russia were poisoned by thallium, but the women believe it was accidental, their lawyer and the hospital said.

Dr. Marina Kovalevsky, 49, and her daughter, Yana, 26, remained in fair condition at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where they had been treated for suspected thallium poisoning since they were admitted this week.

The women were expected to remain hospitalized over the weekend, the statement said. They were unable to walk without assistance, but they should be fully recovered in about a month, said their attorney, Frank Capwell.

The two women became ill late last month and were hospitalized in Moscow before being flown home. U.S. and Russian authorities are investigating.

It was not immediately clear how they came into contact with thallium. The powdered or crystallized form is said to be a tool of choice for Russian assassins, but it has many everyday uses, including as a rat poison.

Capwell said the women believe their poisoning was accidental.

``There were no actions that they saw ... that would leave them believing anything was intentional,'' he said.

The women were born in the former Soviet Union and emigrated in 1989. Marina Kovalevsky has a medical practice in West Hollywood.

They were visiting Russia to attend a relative's wedding and had done nothing politically that might have made them enemies, Capwell said.

``No cloak-and-dagger, no conspiracy theories came to light. It was just painfully obvious that it was just an accident,'' he said.