- The daughter of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal woke up from a coma last week.
- Yulia Skripal and her father collapsed in Salisbury, England, after being poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent. Sergei Skripal remains in critical condition.
- In her first public statement on Thursday, Yulia Skripal described her experience as “somewhat disorienting.”
- Meanwhile, Russian state TV aired an unverified phone conversation in which a woman claiming to be Yulia Skripal says she and her father are recovering.
Yulia Skripal, the daughter of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, has issued her first public statement since she and her father were poisoned by a nerve agent last month in the UK.
She used the statement to thank the doctors who had been looking after her, as well as the people of Salisbury, England, who first called help for her after the attack. She also described her experience at the center of a major geopolitical tug-of-war between Russia and the West as “somewhat disorienting.”
In her statement on Thursday via London’s Metropolitan Police, which is investigating the poisoning, Yulia Skripal said her strength “is growing daily.”
Yulia Skripal was in critical condition after she and her father collapsed in Salisbury’s town center on March 4. Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust last week announced that she was “improving rapidly” but that her father remains badly ill.
UK military scientists identified the poison used against the Skripals as Novichok, a family of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Britain has accused Russia of manufacturing the poison used on the Skripals and orchestrating the attack, though the Kremlin has repeatedly denied doing so.
The Russian Embassy in London has offered consular assistance to Yulia Skripal, but she has not accepted it so far, the UK’s Foreign Office said in a statement on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, the Russian state TV channel Russia-1 aired an unverified phone conversation in which a woman claiming to be Yulia Skripal described how she and her father were recovering.
The call is said to be between Yulia and Viktoria Skripal, Sergei Skripal’s niece in Moscow.
In a transcript of the call translated by the BBC, both speakers appeared to go to unusual lengths to emphasise their identities. The BBC noted that other parts seemed at odds with current information about the Skripals.
Here’s part of the exchange, according to the BBC translation:
Yulia: Hello. Can you hear me?
Viktoria: Yes, I can hear you.
Yulia: It is Yulia Skripal.
Viktoria: Oh, Yulka (a diminutive of Yulia) it’s you! I can tell it’s you from your voice, but I don’t understand. So they gave you a telephone, did they?
Yulia: It’s a temporary phone. Everything’s fine, but we’ll see how it goes. We’ll decide later. You know what the situation is here. Everything is fine. Everything is solvable. Everyone is recovering and is alive.
Viktoria: Understood. Is everything OK with your dad?
Yulia: Everything’s OK. He’s resting now, having a sleep. Everyone’s health is fine. There’s nothing that can’t be put right. I’ll be discharged soon. Everything is OK.
The unverified call comes around the 30-minute mark in this video:
Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust and the Met Police both declined to comment further.
In a press conference on Thursday, Russia’s ambassador to the UK referred to the unverified call in an effort to put more pressure on Britain to respond to what he described as unanswered questions about the Skripals’ conditions.
Western news outlets have been cautious in how they handle the unverified call.
Viktoria Skripal has previously provided misleading statements about the Skripals’ conditions. Two days before Yulia Skripal was said to be recovering, she told the BBC she had “maybe 1% of hope” that the two would survive.
Read Yulia Skripal’s full Thursday statement:
“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.”
Here’s the Foreign Office’s statement:
“We are pleased that Yulia’s condition has improved and pay tribute to the medical staff who have been treating her and Mr Skripal since they were attacked.
“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.”
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