April 05, 2018
Victim of nerve agent issues first statement as relative claims she said father was getting better
Yulia Skripal says she is recovering but disoriented
Thirty-two days after she and her father collapsed in a nerve agent attack, Yulia Skripal has sent out a defiant message that she is getting stronger every day and is grateful to the British people who helped her and her father.
Yulia, 33, thanked the people of Salisbury for coming to her aid when she and her father, the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, were “incapacitated”, and she praised medical staff for nursing them both.
It is not known whether Yulia has given counter-terrorism officers details of how she believes she and her father were attacked, but the fact that the statement was released via the Metropolitan police suggests she is cooperating with British authorities.
If that is the case, it will be a blow to Moscow, which is seeking consular access to the Skripals as it tries to defend itself against the UK government’s accusation that it was behind the 4 March attack. Russia said on Thursday that it expected Yulia to return to Russia.
The UK Foreign Office said Yulia had not taken up Russia’s offers of help. A spokesman said: “We have conveyed to Ms Skripal the Russian embassy’s offer of consular assistance. Ms Skripal is now able to choose if and when to take up this offer, but to date she has not done so.”
Yulia’s statement was released hours after Sergei’s niece, Viktoria, claimed from Moscow that Yulia had told her both she and her father were getting better. Viktoria released what she said was a recording of a phone call between her and Yulia in which the injured woman said her father was sleeping and that nobody had suffered irreversible damage.
The expectation had been that both Sergei and Yulia had suffered lasting damage. A high court judgment related to the case, published on 22 March, asserted: “Medical tests indicate that their mental capacity might be compromised to an unknown and so far unascertained degree.”
But in her upbeat statement released on Thursday, Yulia 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.”
The audio recording of a conversation said to be between Yulia and Viktoria was played on a talkshow on the Russian state-run television station Russia-1. A voice said to be that of Yulia said: “Everything’s OK, everything can be solved, everything can be healed.”
When asked about her father’s condition, she said: “Everything’s OK, he’s resting now, he’s sleeping. Everyone’s health is OK. No one has had any irreversible [harm].”
Viktoria is likely to become a key player in the saga in the coming days. She is said to be applying for a visa to visit the UK and the Skripals. If she does travel, it could result in a media circus, while the Russians are bound to try to use her to further their propaganda campaign.
Yulia appeared to turn down a visit from her cousin, citing the commotion around the case. In the phone conversation, the voice attributed to Viktoria said she hoped to receive a visa on Friday and fly to the UK on Monday.
“Vika, nobody will give you a visa,” came the reply. Viktoria responded: “If they give it, I need you to tell me whether I can visit you or not, tell me that I can.”
The woman said to be Yulia demurred. “I think no, there is such a situation now, we’ll sort it out later,” she said. “Later, we will get it all sorted later, everything’s fine, we’ll see later.”

At a lengthy press conference at the Russian embassy in London on Thursday, the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, was asked whether the phone conversation was genuine. He did not directly reply but said the UK had to give Russia immediate access to Yulia.
“We want to know what happened here,” he said. “This is not a game. For us it is not a joke, believe me. These citizens are poisoned and we want to know the truth.”
Yakovenko said he was “really happy” at Yulia’s recovery, adding that she could be the key to understanding who was behind the attack. He said he expected her eventually to return to Russia and that he hoped her father would recover. “Russia has no problem with him, he spent several years in prison and that is that.”
Yakovenko said he hoped Viktoria would be granted a British visa to visit Yulia on humanitarian grounds, and he wanted to meet Viktoria personally, find her accommodation and provide translation services. “The British have so far not been responsive about the visa,” he said. “The timing of the visit is up to her and how long she stays is up to her.”
He said a visit by Viktoria was not a substitute for consular Russian diplomatic access to Sergei and Yulia.
Viktoria appeared on several Russian talkshows on Wednesday, including one with Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, both accused in the 2006 poisoning of the former spy Alexander Litvinenko in London.
No fresh details of Sergei’s condition have been revealed. On Thursday last week NHS England said his condition was “critical but stable”.
It said after the latest developments that its policy was to give an update on the Skripals’ condition only when there had been significant change.
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