Saturday 23 June 2018

Salisbury nerve agent victim Yulia Skripal releases statement, turns down offer of help from Russian Embassy

Yulia Skripal has left hospital in Salisbury and is believed to have been taken to a safe house
Yulia Skripal has left hospital in Salisbury and is believed to have been taken to a safe house
Victims: Yulia and Sergei Skripal are set to speak to investigators. Photo by REX (9452103m)

Catherine Wylie and Jack Hardy

Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned alongside her father in Salisbury last month, said she has found herself in a "totally different life" as she continues to recover from the nerve agent attack.

A diplomatic battle has been raging between the UK and Moscow about whether the Russian embassy should be allowed access to the 33-year-old daughter of ex-spy Sergei Skripal.

Ms Skripal, found critically ill alongside her 66-year-old father Sergei Skripal on a bench last month, was discharged from a hospital in Salisbury, Wiltshire, this week, and said she does not wish to avail herself of the Russian embassy's services.

In a statement, issued by Scotland Yard, Ms Skripal said: "I have specially trained officers available to me, who are helping to take care of me and to explain the investigative processes that are being undertaken.

"I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can.

"At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them.

Victims: Yulia and Sergei Skripal are set to speak to investigators. Photo by REX (9452103m)
Victims: Yulia and Sergei Skripal are set to speak to investigators. Photo by REX (9452103m)

"Most importantly, I am safe and feeling better as time goes by, but I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do.

"Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.

"I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being.

"Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father's."

Ms Skripal said she was treated with "such kindness" at Salisbury District Hospital, and is missing the staff there.

"I have left my father in their care, and he is still seriously ill. I too am still suffering with the effects of the nerve agent used against us.

"I find myself in a totally different life than the ordinary one I left just over a month ago, and I am seeking to come to terms with my prospects, whilst also recovering from this attack on me," she said.

It is believed that British authorities immediately spirited Ms Skripal away to a secure location when she was discharged from hospital.

The Russian embassy reacted angrily, suggesting in a series of tweets that the Russian national had been taken against her will.

Russia remains the prime suspect for carrying out the attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter.

The embassy is perturbed by a refusal from UK authorities to grant Ms Skripal's cousin Viktoria a visa to visit her family.

It escalated the war of words on Tuesday, saying in a series of statements posted on social media: "Secret resettlement of Mr and Ms Skripal, barred from any contact with their family will be seen as an abduction or at least as their forced isolation."

Ms Skripal's release from hospital was met with a similar broadside from the embassy, which has repeatedly criticised the handling of the investigation into the attack.

In a statement, a spokesman said: "We congratulate Yulia on her recovery.

"Yet we need urgent proof that what is being done to her is done on her own free will."

On Wednesday morning, it suggested reports Ms Skripal had turned down consular assistance actually revealed she is being "held hostage by the same people who destroy evidence and fail to come up with a single official account of the crime".

Former double agent Mr Skripal was jailed in Russia for selling secrets to MI6 but was released as part of a spy swap deal in 2010 and settled in the UK.

It is hoped he will soon be fit for release from hospital, despite grave fears that the exposure to military-grade nerve agent Novichok on March 4 would prove fatal.

Britain has said Russian state involvement is the only plausible explanation for the attack and has led a worldwide reaction involving the expulsion of more than 100 diplomats.

The international chemical weapons watchdog is to publish its report into the Salisbury nerve agent attack on Thursday, the Foreign Office has said.

A spokesman said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has now completed its investigation, which it carried out at the invitation of the UK Government.

The spokesman said that as the requesting state, Britain had asked them to release an executive summary of its findings at midday on Thursday.

"This transparent and open approach, which we have pursued from the outset, is in sharp contrast to the Russian state's ongoing tactics of obfuscation and distraction," the spokesman said.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News