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14.46 6 Apr 2018


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Salisbury attack victim Sergei Skripal is no longer in a critical condition in hospital.

The 66-year-old has been in Salisbury District Hospital alongside his 33-year-old daughter Yulia since the nerve agent attack at his home in early March.

This afternoon, the hospital’s medical director Dr Christine Blanshard said the former Russian double agent is "responding well to treatment" and is "improving rapidly.”

It comes after Yulia Skripal said her "strength is growing daily" in a statement released by the Metropolitan Police.

Ms Skripal took the opportunity to thank the people of Salisbury for coming to their aid after they were found collapsed on a public bench on March 4th.

This afternoon, Dr Blanshard said any speculation on when she might be well enough to leave hospital would be “just that – speculation."

Yulia Skripal. Image: Facebook

"Playing with fire"

Britain has consistently insisted that the Russian State was behind the attack – a claim that Moscow strenuously denies.

At a special meeting of the UN Security Council last night, Russia warned the UK is was "playing with fire and will be sorry" over its response to the attack.

More than two dozen countries – including Ireland – moved to expel Russian diplomats in solidarity with the UK after the British Prime minister insisted there was “no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable” for the attack.

However, British researchers have since confirmed that while they were able to determine that the nerve agent used was novichok - a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia from the 1970s onward, they could not confirm that it was manufactured in Russia.

Novichok

At the UN meeting, Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said novichok is “obviously not copyrighted by Russia” and warned the investigation into the attack “is far from being over, in fact it has only just begun."

He also likened the Western expulsion of diplomats to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

In response, the British ambassador Karen Pierce said she would take no lectures from Moscow and would "stick to the facts."

She compared Moscow’s demand to be included in the investigation to "an arsonist trying to investigate his own fire."

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia holds up a copy of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" as he speaks during a Security Council. Picture by: Mary Altaffer/AP/Press Association Images

"No contradiction"

She then claimed there was “no contradiction” in UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s claim that that British experts had "no doubt" the nerve agent came from Russia.

In an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, claimed researchers were "absolutely categorical" and had told him there was "no doubt" the source of the nerve agent was Russia.

His office has also come under fire for deleting a tweet that made a similar claim. 

Recovery

The latest update on the Skripal’s recovery comes as a relative in Moscow revealed she wants to visit the Skripals - but thinks Britain will stop her from coming over.

Viktoria Skripal said she has applied for a visa to visit her uncle and cousin, but has been told by staff at the British embassy in Moscow that it is now up to the UK authorities to decide whether to let her in.

She said she was "pretty sure" she would not be given a visa - despite the efforts of her compatriots.


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