Fri, May 25, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Recovery slow, painful: Yulia Skripal

AP, LONDON

Yulia Skripal speaks to reporters in London, England, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned with her ex-spy father in a nerve agent attack, on Wednesday said that her recovery has been “slow and painful,” and that she hopes to some day return to Russia.

In her first appearance on camera since the poisoning, Skripal said that she and her 66-year-old father, Sergei, were “lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination.”

They spent weeks hospitalized in critical condition after they were on March 4 found unconscious in Salisbury, England.

The UK blames Russia for the poisoning with a military-grade nerve agent — a charge that Russia vehemently denies.

Yulia Skripal’s statement appeared designed in part to address claims from Moscow that Britain has effectively kidnapped the pair and prevented Russian officials from visiting them.

However, the Russian embassy in London said it remained concerned that Skripal was being held against her will.

Yulia, 33, was discharged from the hospital last month, and her father last week. They were taken to an undisclosed location for their protection.

She said she had arrived to visit her father in Salisbury the day before the attack.

“After 20 days in a coma, I woke to the news that we had both been poisoned,” she said.

During their “slow and extremely painful” recovery, she has been struggling to come to terms with “the devastating changes thrust upon me both physically and emotionally,” she said.

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

“In the longer term, I hope to return home to my country” once she and her father have both recovered, she added.

Russia’s ambassador to London has accused the British government of breaking international law by not granting Russia consular access to them. Britain has said it is up to the Skripals to decide whether they want to meet with embassy officials.

“We are glad to have seen Yulia Skripal alive and well... However, the video shown only strengthens our concerns as to the conditions in which she is being held,” the Russian embassy in London said in a statement.

She appeared to be reading from a text “initially written by a native English speaker,” it said, adding that 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. So far, we have every reason to suspect the opposite.”

Yulia Skripal requested that she and her father be given privacy.

“We need time to recover and come to terms with everything that has happened,” she said. “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,” she added.

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