Ukrainian ambassador dies 'of heart attack' on Koh Lipe

Ukrainian ambassador dies 'of heart attack' on Koh Lipe

The body of Ukraine's ambassador to Thailand Andrii Beshta was taken from Koh Lipe to Satun Hospital in Satun's Muang district on Sunday. (Photo from Satun public relations office)
The body of Ukraine's ambassador to Thailand Andrii Beshta was taken from Koh Lipe to Satun Hospital in Satun's Muang district on Sunday. (Photo from Satun public relations office)

SATUN: Ukrainian ambassador to Thailand Andrii Beshta, 45, died on Koh Lipe island off this southern province on Sunday morning, according to the provincial public relations office.

Pol Capt Bidan Saripa, a Ko Lipe police investigator, said Mr Beshta and his 17-year-old son, Ostap, arrived on the island on May 28 for a vacation. They stayed in the same room at Bu-nga Resort.

Beshta went to bed at 11pm on Saturday, his son said. At 4.30am on Sunday morning, he began vomiting, then lost consciousness and died shortly afterwards.

Beshta's death was reported to Koh Lipe police at about 5.30am.

The body of the Ukrainian ambassador was later taken from Koh Lipe island to Satun Hospital.

There were no traces of the room being forced open or of the ambassador being attacked, the officer said. A statement attributed to National Police deputy spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen later added that "Preliminary investigations showed no signs of him being attacked, no signs of a raid or violence."

Satun governor Ekkarat Leesen said a preliminary autopsy at Satun Hospital on the mainland “concluded he died from a heart attack". 

A swab test for coronavirus at the hospital was negative.  "We ruled out 100% that he died of Covid," Mr Ekkarat said.

The body was taken out of the hospital at 2.50pm and was being transported by land to Bangkok for a detailed autopsy at Police General Hospital.

Beshta's family desired the return of the body to Ukraine as soon as possible, the governor said.

The envoy, accompanied by his son and four friends, arrived on the island for a vacation on Friday. He wanted to say goodbye to his friend, the chairman of the Satun Tourism Association, as he was about to complete his tenure and return to Ukraine, according to the governor.

Beshta spent more than a decade of his career in Thailand, according to the embassy's website, arriving first in 2007 as a counsellor to the diplomatic mission in Bangkok.

He was appointed the embassy's deputy director-general in 2011, taking over as ambassador in 2016.

Speculation inevitable

Although no suggestions of foul play in Beshta's death have yet been made, a degree of speculation is inevitable given the longstanding and ongoing hostility between Russia and Ukraine.

Former Ukraine politican Viktor Yushchenko was disfigured in a 2004 dioxin poisoning linked to Russia. He went on to become president.

In 2018, the British government accused Russia of attempted murder and announced a series of punitive measures after the Novichok poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Russia is also widely believed to be behind the Novichok poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Aug 20 last year. 

In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and this year fears have grown that Russia is planning a new invasion. The enmity between the neighbouring countries is one of the major flashpoints in relations between Russia and the West, with tensions escalating in recent months. 

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