Novichok victim Sergei Skripal ‘is heard speaking for the first time’ since assassination attempt – as he ‘leaves voicemail for his mother’
- Recording has emerged purporting to be Sergei Skripal leaving phone message
- He can be heard leaving a Victory Day holiday message for his mother and niece
- Skripal says he and daughter Yulia, who was also poisoned, are doing ‘good’
- If genuine, it would be the first known recording of him since he narrowly survived being poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury last year
An audio tape has emerged that purports to be the first known recording of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal since he was poisoned by Novichok in Salisbury last year.
The 30-second recording comprises a voicemail apparently left by Sergei with his niece Viktoria, in which he calls to wish her and mother Yelena a happy Victory Day – a major holiday in Russia.
In the tape, the man can be heard saying that he and Yulia – the name of Skripal’s daughter who was also poisoned – are ‘good’.
Sergei Skripal has not been seen or heard in public since he narrowly survived being poisoned with nerve agent in Salisbury alongside daughter Yulia (left) last year
According to the Moskovsky Komsomilets newspaper, Skripal called on Viktoria’s mobile and left a message when she did not answer.
Unlike his daughter Yulia, 34, Sergei had not been seen or heard from since he was poisoned with nerve agent at his home in Salisbury on 4 March 2018.
Yulia, appearing with a tracheotomy scar on her throat, gave an interview from a secret location that was released on May 23.
In it, she says that she and her father are ‘lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination’, describing their recovery as ‘slow and very painful’.
‘As I try to come to terms with the devastating changes thrust upon me both physically and emotionally, I take one day at a time and want to help care for my Dad till his full recovery,’ she said.
‘In the longer term I hope to return home to my country.’
In his message, Skripal says: ‘Hi, Vikulya [pet name for Viktoria], it is uncle Seryozha (Sergei). Tried to reach you, but constantly (it says) ‘the subscriber is not responding’.
Yulia gave a video interview in May last year in which she read a prepared statement, saying she was lucky to be alive following the attack
‘But well… Congratulations to you on the holiday, wish you all the best!
‘Wanted to know how are you doing, how is Senka’s [pet name for Arseny, Viktoria’s husband] finger?
‘Haha. Well, I’m OK, not only me, Yulka (Yulia) is also good.
‘All is OK. Congratulate mummy on the holiday, on Victory Day. Will get in touch later.’
The newspaper said that Viktoria ‘does not doubt that it was her uncle calling’.
Earlier Viktoria had told the media that she believed Sergei was dead – and that Britain was hiding this.
Russian authorities have not commented yet on the audiotape.
The British government has accused Russia of ordering the attack, and minister have said it was ‘highly likely’ to have been ordered by Vladimir Putin himself.
The attack killed one person – Dawn Sturgess – who accidentally came into contact with the poison and led to a major decontamination operation in Salisbury which lasted for months
Britain blames Russia for the attack and two GRU agents using pseudonyms Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who have been unmasked as Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin
Authorities subsequently identified the perpetrators as two Russian GRU agents who entered the country using passports bearing the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, which they said were almost certainly pseudonyms.
Open-source intelligence website Bellingcat later identified the two men as Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga and Dr. Alexander Mishkin.
Russia has denied having anything to do with the poisoning, and has rebuked the British government while trying to discredit evidence around the chemical used.
The country’s UK embassy has also repeatedly requested consular access to the Skripals, and accuses Britain of violating international norms by failing to allow it.
Skripal was a former Russian spy turned double-agent for the UK security services who settled in the UK in 2010 following the Illegals Program spy swap.