x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Poisoned Russian spy's daughter 'improving rapidly'

British health officials said Yulia Skripal has responded well to treatment and is no longer in a critical condition after a nerve-agent attack

The home of Sergei Skripal which has become the focus of the police inquiry into a suspected Russian nerve agent attack. / AFP PHOTO / Chris J Ratcliffe
The home of Sergei Skripal which has become the focus of the police inquiry into a suspected Russian nerve agent attack. / AFP PHOTO / Chris J Ratcliffe

The daughter of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned with a nerve agent in Britain earlier this month together with her father, is no longer in a critical condition and is improving rapidly, British health officials said on Thursday.

"I'm pleased to be able to report an improvement in the condition of Yulia Skripal. She has responded well to treatment but continues to receive expert clinical care 24 hours a day," Christine Blanshard, Medical Director for Salisbury District Hospital said in a statement.

The Salisbury NHS Trust, which oversees the hospital where the pair are being treated, added that Ms Skripal is "improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition. Her condition is now stable."

Her father, Sergei, remains in a critical condition.

The pair were found unconscious in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

British authorities say they were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent and have blamed Russia. Moscow denies involvement in the attack, which has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West.

On Wednesday, British police said that the ex-spy and his daughter probably touched the deadly substance on their front door.

Police revealed that the highest concentration of the deadly substance Novichok was found at Mr Skripal’s home in Salisbury, southern England.

The discovery of the nerve agent at the house suggests that an assassination team had been operating in Britain and quashes speculation that the substance was delivered unwittingly through Ms Skripal's luggage. Ms Skripal, 33, had just arrived in the UK to visit her father.

Mr Skripal lived in a quiet residential street little more than a mile from the centre of the medieval city where he was found on a bench with his daughter in an apparently catatonic state.

Police said they had found traces of the nerve agent in his car and other locations – including the restaurant and pub they visited in the previous hours – but in lesser concentrations.

Anti-terrorist officers will now focus their investigations on the house and are likely to remain in the area for months.

____________

Read more:

The scale of the big freeze has caught Russia by surprise

UK to extend national security strategy to organised crime and 'corrupt elites'

____________

"At this point in our investigation, we believe the Skripals first came into contact with the nerve agent from their front door,” said Dean Haydon, the senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing.

"We are therefore focusing much of our efforts in and around their address. Those living in the Skripals’ neighbourhood can expect to see officers carrying out searches as part of this, but I want to reassure them that the risk remains low and our searches are precautionary."

Police are going through 5,000 hours of CCTV recovered from the city and have identified some 500 witnesses. No potential suspects have been publicly identified for administering the nerve agent, which could have been in the form of a gel.

More than 20 countries, including the United States, France, Germany and Canada, have announced that they are expelling more than 130 diplomats as part of a coordinated programme against Russia.

The UK has convinced its EU partners that Russia was probably behind the attack. Russia has continued to deny that it was responsible and said that the nerve agent could have come from a British defence establishment just outside of Salisbury.

The UK government has dismissed the claims and called in inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to carry out independent testing.