The daughter of a former Russian spy, who was found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury last month alongside her father after being poisoned by a nerve agent, today said she was getting better after her ordeal.
The daughter of a former Russian spy, who was found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury last month alongside her father after being poisoned by a nerve agent, today said she was getting better after her ordeal. Yulia Skripal, who gained consciousness last week and is still in a hospital, described the whole experience as “disorientating”. The 33-year-old thanked the people of the city in south-west England, who helped her and her father, Sergei Skripal, when they were “incapacitated” as well as the staff of Salisbury District Hospital for their “care and professionalism”.
“I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to say my strength is growing daily. I am grateful for the interest in me and for the many messages of goodwill that I have received,” she said in a statement issued by Scotland Yard on her behalf. “I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you will respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence,” she said.
The statement came as the diplomatic row between the UK and Russia continues to escalate. Following the incident, more than two dozen Western allies including Britain, the US and NATO have ordered out over 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity. Britain maintains that the Skripals were poisoned by a deadly Russian-made nerve agent, a charge that is vehemently denied by the Kremlin.
Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko today held a lengthy press conference here to reiterate Moscow’s stance that it was not behind the deadly nerve agent attack. “We hear all the stories and the theories about our motivations. We don’t buy it. For us, these kinds of statements are unacceptable,” he said.
The conference came as Russia TV aired a recording of an alleged phone conversation, which it says took place between the hospitalised Yulia Skripal and her cousin in Moscow, Viktoria. The voice purporting to be that of Yulia, says: “Everything is ok. He [Sergei Skripal] is resting now, having a sleep. Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok.” When Viktoria tells her she hopes to travel to the UK once she gets a visa to visit them, Yulia is heard saying no-one will give her a visa.
The release of the transcript of their conversation has added to the overall conspiratorial nature of the entire episode. Last week, Salisbury NHS foundation trust said Yulia was no longer in a critical condition and described her state as “stable”. Her 66-year-old father’s condition was described by the hospital as still critical but stable.
Russia is preparing to convene a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, during which it hopes to discredit British Prime Minister Theresa May and Britain’s handling of the attack. Meanwhile, British security services are believed to have identified the Russian laboratory where the Novichok nerve agent used to poison Skripals was manufactured. But UK security minister Ben Wallace said that Britain will not release more intelligence in order to placate those questioning the investigation, adding that to do so would be to put people’s lives at risk.
“Let’s be absolutely clear: nerve agent was used in Salisbury. That nerve agent we believe was manufactured in Russia. We add that to intelligence we hold… and we can say that roads lead to Russia,” he said. The issue has also triggered a furious row between UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, after the latter accused the minister of exaggerating the findings of the UK’s defence laboratory at Porton Down.