Russia has accused Britain of holding Yulia Skripal prisoner and forcing her to read a prepared statement after the spy’s daughter spoke out for the first time since being poisoned with military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury.
Speaking about Yulia’s video statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today: ‘We have no reason to trust or believe in this.
‘As before, we don’t know what sort of condition Yulia Skripal is in, we don’t know whether she made this statement of her own free will or whether she was pressured.’
The Russian embassy in London said it was ‘glad to have seen Yulia alive and well’ but has ‘concerns as to the conditions in which she is being held.’
Diplomats repeated their demand to be allowed to see Yulia ‘to make sure that she is not being held against her will and is not speaking under pressure.’
‘So far, we have every reason to suspect the opposite’, the statement concluded.
Yulia Skripal, the daughter of Russian double-agent Sergei who was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury, spoke out for the first time since the attack on Wednesday
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said of Yulia’s statement on Thursday: ‘We have no reason to trust or believe this’
Russia claimed that Yulia is being held against her will in Britain and that she was forced to read a prepared statement denouncing her homeland
In Russia, the country’s staunchly pro-Kremlin media also spun the narrative that Yulia was being forced to denounce her homeland.
Yulia spoke to Reuters from an undisclosed location in London because she is still under the protection of the British state, with footage of the interview released on Wednesday.
Bearing the scar of an emergency tracheotomy on her neck, the 33-year-old said she was ‘lucky to be alive’ following what she described as an ‘assassination attempt’.
But she declined to point the finger of blame directly at the Kremlin, despite the fact that the UK and its allies have said they hold Russia responsible.
Yulia spoke in Russian during the interview and subsequently signed two handwritten copies of her statement, one in Russian and one in English, to affirm that the words were her own.
But Russia claims that words had been put in her mouth.
In a statement released by the country’s UK embassy, diplomats said: ‘Obviously, Yulia was reading a pre-written text.
‘More than that, judging by quite a few elements, the text was a translation from English and had been initially written by a native English-speaker.
‘The handwritten letters signed by Yulia in Russian and English confirm this impression.
‘With all respect for Yulia’s privacy and security, this video does not discharge the UK authorities from their obligations under Consular Conventions.
‘The UK is obliged to give us the opportunity to speak to Yulia directly.’
During her speech, Yulia said that she was ‘grateful for the offers of assistance from the Russian Embassy’ before adding ‘at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services.’
‘Also, I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement, that no one speaks for me, or for my father but ourselves,’ she added.
Putin’s spokesman Peskov claimed that Yulia may have been put under pressure by the British in her video statement.
‘We cannot be completely sure about her condition, whether there is any pressure on her, whether she made the statements of her own free will,’ said Dmitry Peskov.
Russia’s pro-Kremlin media also spun the narrative that Yulia was speaking against her will. Political expert Igor Shatrov (left) said the video was a ‘new act’ in a provocation against Russia, while chemical weapons expert Igor Nikulin (right) was quoted saying that no-one has previously been seen looking so good after a chemical weapons attack
Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian parliament, said Yulia’s video recording left ‘a host of unanswered questions’
Yulia spoke in Russian during her interview and signed two copies of her statement, one in Russian and one in English, to certify that the words were her own. But Russia said her statement appeared to have been written by a native English speaker before being translated
He complained: ‘Until now, the UK side has not complied with the Vienna Convention.
‘Up to this point, Russia has not been provided with consular access to Yulia Skripal.’
He said that despite the broadcast there had been no live interviews with her.
The Kremlin found it impossible to know if what she said ‘can be reliable and trusted’.
He alleged: ‘It is all happening amidst gigantic provocation from the British side, which does not have any comparisons in the world.’
In Russia, newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda cited political expert Igor Shatrov said the video was a ‘new act’ in a provocation against Russia choreographed by Britain.
Britain will be able to impose sanctions on people who commit gross human rights violations under a so-called ‘Magnitsky amendment’ backed by members of parliament on Tuesday.
The amendment to a new Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill going through parliament passed without a vote as it was backed both by the ruling Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party.
Lawmakers referred to it during their debate as the Magnitsky amendment, in reference to Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was arrested in 2008 after alleging that Russian officials were involved in large-scale tax fraud. He died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after complaining of mistreatment.
‘Who wrote the text? Did she? Or MI6? In my opinion, Yulia was forced to make tougher statements about Russia,’ he said.
‘It is obvious that the young woman is scared for her life – and the life of her father.
‘But who is the source of this threat?
‘It seems to me, it is those who are in charge of her now.’
Chemical weapons expert Igor Nikulin was quoted saying that no-one has been seen previously having looking so good after a chemical weapons attack.
‘I have never seen anybody who survived after poisoning with such a gas,’ he said.
‘But we have to admit, she does look well.
‘I suppose, serious professional experts have been working with her.
‘And a lot is possible in two months.
‘I am more confused that it was not her press conference (rather than a video statement).
‘It makes us think that (the British) are hiding something from us.
‘Maybe they are afraid that Yulia may say something they don’t want.’
Psychologist Anatoly German claimed Yulia was reading words that had been penned for her.
‘Yulia looks determined but lost, like a schoolgirl who learned a poem by heart, and was called to the blackboard in the classroom to recite it without mistake,’ he said.
‘She wrinkles her forehead, she looks aside very often.
‘She must say this text up the end but it won’t give her satisfaction, maybe just some relief. Like – ‘well, I’ve said that now’.
‘The whole text and her monotone intonation tell us that it was not an improvisation but something that was repeated before and probably was ‘improved’ during these rehearsals.
Yulia and her father Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain´s MI6 foreign spy service, were found unconscious on a public bench in the British city of Salisbury on March 4
Mr Skripal, recruited by British spies while in Spain, ended up in Britain after a Cold War-style spy swap that brought 10 Russian spies captured in the United States back to Moscow in exchange for those accused by Moscow of spying for the West
‘There are almost no word combinations and sayings that naturally come out in a normal speech and reveal the personality.
‘Of course, some things can be explained by the nervousness of the young woman – some mechanical-looking gestures, her monotone voice.
‘But there is a feeling that this text is artificial, non-personalised, written and edited by other people.’
He concluded: ‘Watching this video, we cannot say that at this very moment Yulia is very scared.
‘But obviously she is suffering from the consequences of her stress.
‘Reading her face we see that she is stunned and not sure of herself.’
Surgeon Sergey Goryachev identified the mark on her neck as evidence of a tracheotomy.
It indicated that Yulia and her father breathed in a ‘strong neuro-paralytic substance (and) most likely they had throat spasms’.
Prominent Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian parliament, said Yulia’s video recording left ‘a host of unanswered questions’.
The pro-Kremlin politician said Russia was ‘glad to see that Yulia is alive and well’ and that Moscow was ‘ready to render all necessary assistance for her to return home’
However hen added: ‘I still believe that a full and independent investigation is needed into the United Kingdom’s illegal actions against Russia over the Skripal case.’
He alleged: ‘The video address might as well be staged with an aim to conceal the truth about the March 4 incident in Salisbury.
‘That’s why the Russian diplomatic mission’s demands to meet with Yulia are rightful and justified.’
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday night that he thought Yulia Skripal was speaking under duress.
‘We have not seen her or heard from her,’ he said when asked to comment on the story.
Russia’s ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, has repeatedly demanded to see Yulia, who was a Russian citizen when she was poisoned.
‘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. In the longer term I hope to return home to my country’ Yulia said
A two inch scar was visible across her windpipe as she spoke – thought to be from an emergency tracheotomy performed by paramedics battling to save her life
Detailing the harrowing attack her hand written letter, Miss Skripal said: ‘The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking. My life has been turned upside down.’
Despite the poisoning, Miss Skripal said she wants to return to her home country some day.
Miss Skripal’s appearance comes just days after Russian president Vladimir Putin taunted Mr Skripal following his release from hospital, remarking he would have ‘died on the spot’ had he been attacked with a military-grade toxin.
Putin wished Mr Skripal ‘good health’ during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week.
But he added: ‘God grant him good health… If a military-grade poison had been used, the man would have died on the spot. Thank God he recovered and that he left (hospital).’
Mystery surrounds the attack. The motive is unclear, as is the logic of using such an exotic nerve agent which has overt links to Russia’s Soviet past
Sergei, thought to be the main target of the attack, is a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to MI6.
‘We are so lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination. Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful,’ she said in her written English statement.
‘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. In the longer term I hope to return home to my country.’
Prime Minister Theresa May said the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s. May, along with many other world leaders, blame Russia for the poisoning.
It was the first known use of a military-grade nerve agent on European soil since World War Two. Allies in Europe and the United States sided with May’s view and ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.
Russia retaliated by expelling Western diplomats. Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement and accused the British intelligence agencies of staging the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.
Mystery surrounds the attack. The motive is unclear, as is the logic of using such an exotic nerve agent which has overt links to Russia’s Soviet past.
Russian officials question why Russia would want to attack an ageing turncoat who was pardoned and swapped in a Kremlin-approved 2010 spy swap.
‘I don’t want to describe the details but the clinical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing,’ she said in Russian.
Yulia’s father was discharged from hospital on May 18. At one point doctors feared both patients could have suffered brain damage. He is no longer in a critical condition, Salisbury hospital said.
Miss Skripal was speaking from a secret location in London as she is under the protection of the British state. She was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital about five weeks after the poisoning and has not been seen by the media until now
Miss Skripal spoke in Russian and supplied a statement that she said she had written herself in both Russian and English. She signed both documents after making her statement
Born as a citizen of a superpower, Yulia grew up as the Soviet Union crumbled and then in the chaos that followed its 1991 collapse.
Her Facebook page says she started studying at Moscow’s School No. 63 in 1991 before gaining admission to Moscow State Humanities University in 2001, a year after Putin was first elected as Russian president.
In December 2004, her father was arrested by Federal Security Service agents on suspicion of treason: passing secrets to Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency.
Miss Skripal, recruited by British spies while in Spain, ended up in Britain after a Cold War-style spy swap that brought 10 Russian spies captured in the United States back to Moscow in exchange for those accused by Moscow of spying for the West.
Yulia arrived in Britain from Russia at London’s Heathrow Airport at about 1440 GMT on March 3 on one of her regular visits to her father. The pair were found unconscious a day later.
‘I am grateful to all of the wonderful, kind staff at Salisbury hospital, a place I have become all too familiar with. I also think fondly of those who helped us on the street on the day of the attack.’
Yulia Skripal full press statement
Yulia Skripal says she wants to return to her country ‘in the longer term’, despite the poisoning
Good day, my name is Yulia Skripal. I came to the UK on March 3rd to visit my father, something I have done before.
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.
The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking. 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. I am grateful to all of the wonderful, kind staff at Salisbury hospital, a place I have become all too familiar with.
I also think fondly of those who helped us on the street on the day of the attack. I was discharged from hospital on April 9th and continue to progress with treatment but my life has been turned upside down.
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 father until his full recovery.
In the longer term I hope to return home to my country. I wish to address a couple of issues directly and have chosen to interrupt my rehabilitation to make this short statement.
I ask that everyone respects the privacy of me and my father. We need time to recover and come to terms with everything that has happened.
I’m grateful for the offers of assistance from the Russian Embassy but at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services.
Also, I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement: that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.
I would like to thank again everyone involved in my continued care, in this difficult period of my life. My priority remains on my recovery and my father’s health. Thank you for your attention.
Yulia Skripal’s family welcomes her video appearance as proof she is ‘alive’ – by Will Stewart in Moscow
Yulia Skripal’s family tonight welcomed her video appearance as proof she is ‘alive’.
Her cousin Viktoria, 45, who has been twice refused entry to Britain to meet Yulia, 33, and her father Sergei, 66, said: ‘The whole family was incredibly happy to see the video as it least it confirms that she is alive.
‘This alone is such a joy.’
The family had expressed fears – because she had not been seen since early March – that she and her father were dead.
‘The main message for us was that she did say she wanted to be back home, back to Russia,’ said Viktoria.
‘I’m having so many calls from all over the world that I didn’t even have time to watch it properly and discuss the video from the family until you sent me the file I saw Yulia.
‘Judging by what I saw, it looks like she tracheostomy, you can see a scar on her neck.
‘And the timing of that video release is so close to her grandmother’s appeal was begging UK authorities to let her speak to her son and granddaughter.
‘The timing of this video, it came right after the grandmother’s appeal.
‘We just wish we could speak direct to them.
‘So far we have had no direct calls from her, and nor a call or message from Sergei.’
She vowed: ‘We will continue to fight for our chance to talk to them, to see them.’
And she added: ‘You can also see that she’s trying to speak with her own words, but this is still a script.
‘Was it given to her? ‘
Sergei and Yulia Skripal poisoning: A timeline of events
March 3: Yulia Skripal flies from Moscow to Heathrow airport to visit her father
March 4: Sergei and Yulia go to The Mill pub, before going to the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury. Police later receive a call from a member of the public after the pair are found slumped on a bench, close to the Sainsbury’s car park
March 5: The pair are identified in the British media. Foreign secretary Boris Johnson declares Britain will ‘respond appropriately and robustly’, should Russia’s involvement be confirmed.
March 7: Police confirm the use of a deadly but unnamed nerve agent. Both Skripal and his daughter remain gravely ill in hospital
March 12: Prime minister Theresa May says the poison used was a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia
March 13: The Russian Embassy hits back at suggestions of Kremlin involvement and threatens to take action if the UK government does not back down.
March 14: Theresa May expels 23 Russian diplomats from the UK as suspends all planned high-level UK Russia contacts.
March 15: The UK, US, France and Germany issue joint statement condemning the attack, labelling in an ‘assault on UK sovereignty’
March 17: Russia retaliates by expelling 23 British diplomats and shuts down the British council.
March 20: 23 Russian embassy employees leave the UK
March 23: 23 British diplomats leave Russia
March 26: US President Donald Trump announces the expulsion of 60 Russians from the US over the attack. While 14 EU member states also expel Russian diplomats.
March 26: Russia responds by declaring it will expel at least 60 US diplomats
April 5: Yulia breaks her silence from hospital after 20 day coma
April 7: Reports emerge Sergei is improving rapidly and is no longer in critical condition
April 10: Yulia Skripal is discharged from hospital a little over a month after the attack
May 18: Sergei is discharged from hospital
May 18: Vladimir Putin taunts Sergei remarking he would be dead had military grade agent
May 23: Yulia breaks her silence and tells world media the attack was an ‘attempted assasination’ and that she is ‘lucky to be alive’