Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned with her ex-spy father in a nerve agent attack, says they’re lucky to be alive and her recovery has been slow and painful, in her first public statement since the poisoning.
“The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking,” Ms Skripal told Reuters in an exclusive statement. “My life has been turned upside down.”
Yulia and her father Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, were found unconscious on a public bench in the British city of Salisbury on March 4.
Ms Skripal, 33, was in a coma for 20 days.
“I woke to the news that we had both been poisoned,” Ms Skripal said in her first media appearance since the poisoning. She contacted Reuters through the British police.
Ms Skripal was speaking from a secret location in London as she is under the protection of the British state.
She was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital about five weeks after the poisoning and has not been seen by the media until now.
Ms Skripal spoke in Russian to Reuters and supplied a statement that she said she had written herself in both Russian and English. She signed both documents after making her statement.
She declined to answer questions after speaking to camera.
“We are so lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination. Our recovery has been slow and extremely painful,” she said in her written English statement.
“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. In the longer term, I hope to return home to my country.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 80s. May blames Russia for the poisoning.
It was the first known use of a military-grade nerve agent on European soil since World War Two. Allies in Europe and the US sided with May’s view and ordered the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats since the height of the Cold War.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he thought Ms Skripal was speaking under duress.
“We have not seen her or heard from her,” he said when asked to comment on the story.
Russia’s ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, has repeatedly demanded to see Ms Skripal, who was a Russian citizen when she was poisoned.
“I’m grateful for the offers of assistance from the Russian embassy. But at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services,” Ms Skripal, who wore a light blue summer dress and bore a scar on her neck, said.
“Also, I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement, that no one speaks for me, or for my father but ourselves.”
Mystery surrounds the attack. The motive is unclear, as is the logic of using such an exotic nerve agent which has overt links to Russia’s Soviet past.
“I don’t want to describe the details but the clinical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing,” she said.