Russian spy poisoning: Yulia Skripal ‘getting stronger daily’

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UK police have issued a statement on behalf of Russian spy Sergei Skripal’s daughter, the first since the pair were poisoned by a nerve agent in March.

“I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to say my strength is growing daily,” the statement says.

The news came hours after Russia TV aired a recording of an alleged phone conversation, which it says took place between Ms Skripal and her cousin.

Ms Skripal, 33, and her father are in hospital in Salisbury after the attack.

Mr Skripal, 66, remains critically ill but stable.

She said she was grateful for the many messages of goodwill she had received.

“I have many people to thank for my recovery and would especially like to mention the people of Salisbury that came to my aid when my father and I were incapacitated,” the statement went on.

“Further than that, I would like to thank the staff at Salisbury District Hospital for their care and professionalism.

“I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”

The UK government has accused Russia of being behind the attack, but Russia’s ambassador in the UK said Moscow had no nerve agent stockpile.

The incident has sparked an international diplomatic crisis.

Earlier on Thursday Russian TV released a recorded phone call alleged to have taken place between Ms Skripal and her cousin Viktoria.

The alleged Yulia says: “Everything is ok. He [her father] is resting now, having a sleep. Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok.”

Viktoria Skripal has said she hopes to travel to the UK to visit her relatives, if she can get a visa, but the alleged Yulia tells her that no-one will give her one.

Russian news agency Interfax also quoted the cousin as saying in an interview that they had spoken and that Yulia had told her that all was well.

She expressed surprise that the phone call had come a day after she had told media that she was not allowed to speak to Yulia, Interfax reported.

“Do you believe in coincidences? I don’t,” it quoted her as saying.

Viktoria is said to be one of their closest living relatives after a series of family deaths.

The incident, which the UK blames on Russia, has led to worsening relations between Moscow and many Western countries, with more than 150 diplomats expelled on each side.

Speaking shortly after the alleged conversation was released, Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko denied statements by UK officials that Russia did not respond to the poisoning allegations immediately.

He read out a letter which he said Russia had sent denying involvement, adding that claims that Russia had a nerve agent stockpile were not true.