The best friend of poisoned spy Sergei Skripal has said that the double agent and his daughter should be allowed to die.
Ross Cassidy met Mr Skripal after he moved into the house next door in Salisbury in 2010 and questioned the quality of life of both should they survive.
Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in a critical condition following the Novichok attack in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on March 4.
It was also revealed that Mr Skripal’s mother had not been told of the incident, while family believe there is just a ‘one per cent chance’ of the pair pulling through.
Mr Skripal’s best friend said the Russian double agent (right) and his daughter Yulia (left) are so ill that they should be allowed to die
Police officers were wearing protective suits and masks close to the scene where Yulia and Sergei were found
Viktoria Skripal said the prognosis for the former Russian double agent and his daughter Yulia ‘really isn’t good’
He told Sky News: ‘Quite frankly, what future have they got? I don’t know the properties of this weapon that was used on them and my guess is they are probably being kept alive by artificial means and what life will they have if they survive?
‘We’ve already been told they will be severely mentally impaired and I don’t think they would want that. I think death would probably be merciful.’
It comes as Mr Skirpal’s niece said her uncle and cousin have only a slim chance of surviving.
Viktoria Skripal said the prognosis for the former Russian double agent and his daughter Yulia ‘really isn’t good’.
Sergei, 66, (pictured) enjoyed drinking in Salisbury and was attacked with a nerve agent in the city with his daughter
She told the BBC: ‘Out of 99 per cent I have maybe 1 per cent of hope. Whatever it was has given them a very small chance of survival.
‘But they’re going to be invalids for the rest of their lives. The first priority was to protect our granny so that she wouldn’t hear or find out anything.’
Countries across the world joined the UK in diplomatic action against Russia, which has been blamed for the attack.
Theresa May hailed the ‘unprecedented series of expulsions’ of Russian diplomats, which she said sent a strong message to Moscow that it could not ignore international law.
The Russian Embassy in the UK said the Prime Minister had had still not presented evidence that the country was responsible for the poisonings, adding that ‘no-one in the wider world would take British words for granted’.
It also responded to claims by officials that more than 20 different stories had come out of Moscow since the attack to ‘try and confuse the picture’.
Scotland Yard issued the first clear photograph of the former double agent’s car, a burgundy BMW (pictured) and are trying to piece together where it was on Sunday 4
A statement posted on its website read: ‘This only confirms the openness of the Russian society and the independence of Russian media, which Prime Minister May wrongly confuses with the Russian state.
‘Given the lack of official information, every Russian, just like every Briton, is entitled to their own version of events.
‘Let’s also not forget that at least five different versions of the poisoning have been ‘leaked’ by the police to British media: the Skripals were either poisoned in a pub, or in a restaurant, or in their car, or by putting the chemical into Ms Skripal’s suitcase, or by smearing their door handle.
‘To see Russia being accused of spreading false rumours in this context is rather surprising.’
On Wednesday, Ireland became the 24th country to join the the UK in diplomatic action against the Kremlin.
With Downing Street saying that more than 115 Russian diplomats had been ordered home by friends and allies, Dublin added one more to the list.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, hinted that the Kremlin would respond with tit-for-tat expulsions, saying Russia would proceed from the ‘principle of reciprocity’.
Russia has already ordered 23 British diplomats to leave in response to the expulsion of a similar number of undeclared Russian intelligence officers from the UK.