‘I hope to return home to my country’: Yulia Skripal gives first interview

24 May 2018

‘I hope to return home to my country’: Yulia Skripal gives first interview

Image credit: Reuters

Yulia Skripal, the daughter of a former Russian spy, has given her first interview since surviving an alleged nerve agent attack on her and her father in March.

Speaking to Reuters at a secret location in London, Ms Skripal said the attack had turned her life “upside down” and that the “recovery has been slow and extremely painful”.

“The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking,” she said in a statement. “I don’t want to describe the details but the clinical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing.”

Ms Skripal’s father, Sergey Skripal, was a Russian military intelligence colonel who betrayed dozens of agents after he was recruited by Britain’s foreign intelligence service MI6.

He was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service in 2004 on suspicions of treason and in 2010 was pardoned and exchanged in a Cold War-style spy swap.

Yulia Skripal said she had regularly travelled from Moscow to the UK to visit her father in past.

“I came to the UK on the [third] of March to visit my father, something I have done regularly in the past,” she said. “After 20 days in a coma, I woke to the news that we had both been poisoned.”

In the days following the attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible because British experts identified the substance as being a Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement and no direct link has been established.

Ms Skripal said she plans to return to Russia after she and her father have fully recovered.

“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.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern that Ms Skripal may be being held against her will, as British authorities have refused consular access to her.

“With all respect for Yulia’s privacy and security, this video does not discharge the UK authorities from their obligations under Consular Conventions,” the Russian Embassy in London said in a statement.

“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.”

Ms Skripal said in her statement that she was “grateful for the offers of assistance from the Russian Embassy, but at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services,” adding, “I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.”

She also signed two handwritten statements, one in English and another in Russian, in front of the camera.

Scans of Yulia Skripal’s original statements can be seen here.