Russia TV airs purported call ‘with poisoned spy’s daughter’

The poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter has sparked a major diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, after London blamed the incident on Moscow
AFP

Moscow (AFP) – Russian state television on Thursday aired what it said was a phone conversation between a relative and Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned in Britain last month along with her father, a former double agent.

Presenters on Rossiya 1 television’s “60 Minutes” talk show said they had obtained the recording from Yulia’s cousin Viktoria but added that they could not confirm its authenticity.

In the call, a woman introducing herself as Yulia Skripal says she is expecting to be discharged from hospital soon and that her father Sergei is “fine”.

“It is Yulia Skripal,” the woman says in Russian at the start of the brief chat. 

“Everything is fine (with my father). He is resting now, he is sleeping. Everyone’s health is fine. There is nothing that is irreversible. That’s it, I’ll be discharged soon. Everything is OK,” she adds.

The cousin, who lives in Russia, then says she is hoping to come to the UK next week.

“Vika, nobody will give you a visa,” the voice allegedly belonging to Yulia replies. 

The English hospital where the pair are being treated after the nerve agent poisoning on March 4 said last week that Yulia’s health was “improving rapidly”. 

But her 66-year-old father remained in a critical condition, according to the latest update.

Soviet-era chemist Vil Mirzayanov — who was involved in the development of the nerve agent that Britain says was used on the Skripals — earlier told AFP that the pair would suffer its effects for the rest of their lives even if they survived.

The incident has triggered a major diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, after London blamed Moscow for the poisoning. 

Russia has angrily rejected the allegations. 

Yulia’s cousin has spoken publicly several times about the poisoning.

On Wednesday she appeared on a talk show with Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, the main suspects in the murder of ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in Britain in 2006.

She told the Russian press this week the Skripals could not have been poisoned at their home, as British police have suggested, because their pets would also have been affected. 

Moscow’s foreign ministry later complained of a lack of information about the animals from the British side.

A British military laboratory analysing the nerve agent known as “Novichok” revealed Tuesday that it could not say whether the substance came from Russia.

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