LONDON (AP) - In her first public comment since she and her father, a former Russian spy, were poisoned by a nerve agent, Yulia Skripal said Thursday from a hospital that she’s recovering quickly, but the whole ordeal has been “somewhat disorientating.”
Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal in the city of Salisbury, and more than two dozen Western allies have expelled over 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity. Moscow has fiercely denied the accusations and sent home an equal number of envoys in an all-out diplomatic war unseen even at the height of the Cold War.
Yulia Skripal said in a statement released by British police that her “strength is growing daily” and expressed gratitude to those who came to her aid.
“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 33-year-old said.
The hospital treating the Skripals confirmed that Yulia’s health has improved, while her 66-year-old father remains in critical condition.
Russian state Rossiya TV on Thursday released a recording of a purported phone call between Yulia Skripal and her cousin in Russia, although the broadcaster said it could not verify its authenticity. In the call, Yulia Skripal allegedly says she and her father are both recovering and in normal health, and that her father’s health has not been irreparably damaged.
Rossiya TV said Skripal’s niece, Viktoria, who lives in Moscow, gave it the purported recording.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the British accusations against Moscow as a mockery of international law. At a news conference Thursday, Lavrov insisted the poisoning case was fabricated by Britain to “demonize” Russia.
“The so-called Skripal case has been used as a fictitious, orchestrated pretext for the unfounded massive expulsions of Russian diplomats not only from the U.S. and Britain but also from a number of other countries who simply had their arms twisted,” Lavrov said in Moscow. “We have never seen such an open mockery of the international law, diplomatic ethics and elementary decorum.”
As part of the diplomatic row, Russia last week ordered 60 U.S. diplomats to leave the country by Thursday in retaliation for Washington’s expulsion of the same number of Russians.