The surreal row continues between London and Moscow over the responsibility for the nerve agent poisoning of Russian citizens Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. Last week Yulia, 33, recovered from the attack and has finally spoken. In Salisbury Hospital, where she is being treated with her father, she gave a declaration to British police.
“I woke up last week and am happy to say I my energy grows every day,” said Yulia, who was visiting her father at the time of the attempted murder, which turned the clock on East-West relationships back to the ‘50s. “I thank everyone for their interest in my case and for the greetings I received.”
After expressing her gratitude to Salisbury’s citizens and medical staff for their help, she added: “I’m sure you’ll understand that what happened is somewhat disorientating, and I hope you’ll respect my and my family’s privacy during the recovery period.”
An ambitious demand, given the international interest in the case and the facts, including the reciprocal deportations of diplomats. So much that Russian state TV even broadcast her alleged phone conversation with her cousin Viktoria. In it, she reassures her cousin: “All is well,” she says, adding that she hoped to be dismissed from the hospital soon and that her father too is feeling better. Neither of them suffered irreparable damage to their health. Russia-1 did not confirm the authenticity of the conversation.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Russia’s ambassador to London showed just how much the two capitals are at loggerheads with each other in a crowded press conference. “We have many suspects in Great Britain,” said Alexander Yakovenko, returning British accusations to sender. Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Affairs Minister Boris Johnson and Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said they are sure of Russian involvement in the poisoning, although the Porton Down experts have been unable to verify the precise source of the novichok nerve agent.
“There are at least 20 countries, including many advanced ones, who are capable of producing it,” Yakovenko said, as long as they have the necessary technology. He added: “In the last 10 years, a lot of Russian citizens have died in very strange circumstances here,” referring to the well-known Litvinenko case, among others.
Litvinenko was a Russian dissident, former secret agent and an opponent of Putin who was killed with radioactive materials in 2006 in central London. Britain thinks two Russians were responsible for it: one of them, Andrey Lugovoy, is currently a member of the State Duma.
The ambassador then repeated his request to allow the victims to access the consulate, said he was glad to hear the survivors’ health was improving and offered official assistance. Johnson repeated that it will be up to Yulia Skripal to accept or decline the Russian diplomat’s invitation.
After the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague refused the Chinese-Russian proposal to create a joint international commission to investigate the attack, Yakovenko yet again invited Britain to make the ongoing investigation materials public. The OPCW will publish the results of its analysis next week.
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