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Russian spy poisoning: Yulia Skripal hopes to return to Russia



The daughter of an ex-Russian spy poisoned in Salisbury has said she is “lucky to be alive” after the attack.

Yulia Skripal and her father, Sergei, were exposed to nerve agent Novichok in the city on 4 March.

In her first filmed public statement since the attack, Ms Skripal told Reuters that her life had been “turned upside down” but she hoped to return to Russia in the future.

Her father was discharged from hospital earlier this month.

Ms Skripal spent six weeks in Salisbury District Hospital, and was discharged after doctors there said she had responded “exceptionally well” to treatment.

Speaking to the news agency, she said she was continuing “to progress with treatment” and her focus remains on her recovery.

“After 20 days in a coma, I woke to the news that we may have been poisoned. I still find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that both of us were attacked in a such a way.”

Ms Skripal thanked the Russian embassy for its offer of assistance. But she said she and her father were “not ready to take it”.

She also paid tribute to those who had treated her since the attack, describing them as “wonderful and kind”.

“We are so lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination.

“I don’t want to describe the details, but the clinical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing.

“Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful.”

In the video, a scar on Ms Skripal’s neck can be seen which is understood to be from a tracheotomy – a procedure to help patients breathe.

Ms Skripal added she would be taking “one day at a time” and that she hoped to care for her father until he is fully recovered.

She has asked for her and Mr Skripal’s privacy to be respected.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia had continuously tried to contact Ms Skripal “to get information direct from the source”.

“We want Yulia Skripal to know that there was not a single day when the Russian foreign ministry and the Russian embassy in London did not try to arrange contact with her, with the chief aim of checking that she is not being held by force, that no one else is being passed off as her,” she added.

Before the statement, the pair had been moved to secure locations but it is not clear if they were together.

Foul play concerns

Ms Skripal, 33, and 66-year-old Mr Skripal were found slumped on a bench following the poisoning.

Wiltshire Police Det Sgt Nick Bailey, who was one of the first on the scene, was also admitted to hospital for treatment and was the first to be discharged.

The UK responded to the attack, which it blames Russia for, by announcing a number of sanctions including the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats.

Russia denies any involvement and in turn ordered British diplomats to leave Moscow.

Its embassy in the UK has expressed concerns over the legitimacy of the statement, believing it was written “by a native English speaker”.

In a statement, it said: “The UK is obliged to give us the opportunity to speak to Yulia directly in order to make sure that she is not held against her own will and is not speaking under pressure.”

Meanwhile, work to decontaminate the Wiltshire city is still under way with the highest concentration of the Novichok found at the Skripals’ front door.

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