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W. German Paper Says Gorbachev May Have Been Poisoning Target

September 22, 1987|Associated Press

HAMBURG, West Germany — A West German newspaper reported Monday that Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev was hospitalized during his Black Sea vacation after suffering serious food poisoning.

The mass-circulation newspaper Bild, citing no sources for its story, said the Kremlin leader may have been the target of a poisoning attempt.

There was no Soviet comment on the report Monday.

The newspaper said that Gorbachev returned to Moscow last Friday, traveling from the Crimea by train instead of flying as usual. Gorbachev's motorcade was seen traveling to the Kremlin on Monday morning.

The West German newspaper also said that Gorbachev escaped a possible assassination attempt in February, when authorities found a police car filled with explosives in Riga, the capital of the Soviet republic of Latvia, the day before he visited the city.

Bild said Gorbachev had taken an unusually long summer vacation and had not been seen in public since Aug. 6. Kremlin officials, Bild said, had explained his absence as an extended vacation after hard work.

It said Gorbachev became ill three weeks into the vacation and was hospitalized. It said Soviet authorities were investigating whether the food poisoning was actually an attempt on Gorbachev's life.

(Sources in Washington said they were aware of the Bild report, but added there was no confirmation of the reported illness or of any assassination plot.)

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