The daughter of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal has released a statement to the media for the first time since she and her father were poisoned with the Russian-made nerve toxin Novichok on March 4.
What's the story?
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a bench near a shopping center in Salisbury, England. Investigators later determined that two had been poisoned with Novichok, which had been developed by the Russians during the Cold War. They apparently came into contact with it on the front door of Sergei Skripal’s home in Salisbury. While Yulia is recovering and is now able to speak, her father remains in critical but stable condition.
On March 12, British Prime Minister Theresa May demanded that the Russian government explain how its tailor-made nerve agent ended up poisoning someone on British soil. The Russian embassy in the United Kingdom responded with a series of mocking tweets dismissing May’s statements as “evidence free” and “a clear provocation.” The Russian government has also accused British intelligence of being behind the attack and trying to frame Russia for it.
Since then, the United States and 27 other nations have expelled Russian diplomats. Russia has responded by expelling an equal number of American diplomats from its own borders. These American diplomats bordered “three large buses and a minivan” to leave Moscow Thursday morning, according to NPR.
What did she say?
In a statement released by London police, Yulia Skripal said:
“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.
“I have many people to thank for my recovery and would especially like to mention the people of Salisbury that came to my aid when my father and I were incapacitated. Further than that, I would like to thank the staff at Salisbury district hospital for their care and professionalism.
“I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”
Shortly before this statement from Yulia was published, Russian state television released snippets from a conversation that Yulia’s cousin, Viktoria Skripal, claimed to have received in Moscow from Yulia. In the audio, the caller insists that “everything is fine, everything is fixable, everyone is getting better, everyone is alive,” and that both her and her father should be leaving the hospital soon.
However, The Guardian points out that “[t]he audio recording of the conversation, which was made by Viktoria despite not knowing it was Yulia calling her when she picked up the phone,” which raises some questions about its authenticity. The Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom did not give a direct answer when asked if the audio was authentic, but said that he hoped that Viktoria would be able to visit her uncle and cousin.
This same cousin has been trying to get permission to see the Skripals and to eventually take Yulia back to Russia, but so far has been unable to.