Sunday 16 December 2018

Daughter of poisoned Russian spy is now 'conscious and talking'

Sergei Skripal’s daughter Yulia is said to be improving in hospital after the poisoning
Sergei Skripal’s daughter Yulia is said to be improving in hospital after the poisoning

Patrick Sawer

The daughter of Sergei Skripal may lead police to their would-be assassins after it was reported she had regained consciousness for the first time since being struck down in the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Yulia Skripal was "conscious and talking", according to reports last night, raising hopes that she may recover enough to be able to give the police information about the attack.

Such information could prove invaluable in the hunt for the suspected Russian hit-squad which targeted Col Skripal, who was convicted by the Russians for selling information to MI6 and came to Britain in 2010 following a spy swap.

Her father, who collapsed with her on a bench close to the River Avon in the city after leaving a restaurant, remains in a critical but stable condition.

It is understood doctors may have used a drug called pralidoxime, an antidote to organophosphate pesticides and chemicals, to treat her and her father. Salisbury District Hospital said her condition was "improving rapidly" and she was no longer in a critical condition.

Dr Christine Blanshard, medical director at the hospital, said: "I'm pleased to be able to report an improvement in the condition of Yulia Skripal.

"She has responded well to treatment but continues to receive expert clinical care 24 hours a day." The Skripals' relatives in Russia had expressed fears that she was close to death and may even have already died.

Her improvement will be welcomed both by her family and detectives, who will hope that she recovers to the extent that she can respond in some way to questions about the hours leading up to the attack.

Ms Skripal (33), who lives in Moscow, was in Britain visiting her father and it may be that she can at some stage give an indication of whether they were followed or if she noticed any suspicious activity around her father's house in Christie Miller Road, where police say the largest concentration of traces of nerve agent was discovered.

Detectives earlier said the pair were probably poisoned by a nerve agent being applied to Mr Skripal's front door at his Salisbury home.

It also emerged this week that Elena Yakovlevna, Col Skripal's mother, has not been told of the attack.

Moscow is facing increasing global isolation, with at least 26 countries expelling a total of more than 130 of its suspected spies.

Russia announced the expulsion of more than 150 diplomats, including 60 Americans, yesterday and said it was closing a US consulate in retaliation for the wave of Western expulsions of Russian diplomats in a tit-for-tat response that intensified the Kremlin's rupture with the United States and Europe.

Irish Independent

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