NEWS
11/04/2018 18:53 BST | Updated 11/04/2018 23:37 BST

Yulia Skripal Rejects Russia's Help After Moscow Accuses UK Of 'Abduction'

'I do not wish to avail myself of their services'.

Yulia Skripal has refused assistance from Russia since leaving hospital, after her home country claimed Britain had “abducted” her.

A diplomatic battle has been raging between the two nations over whether the Russian embassy should be allowed access to the 33-year-old daughter of ex-spy Sergei Skripal, both of whom were poisoned with a deadly nerve agent last month. 

Yulia Skripal, who was found critically ill alongside her 66-year-old father on a bench in Salisbury, was discharged from hospital in Wiltshire this week.

It is believed that British authorities immediately transfered her away to a secure location.

The embassy reacted angrily to the news, suggesting in a series of tweets that the Russian national had been taken against her will and had been effectively “abducted’.

In a statement from Skripal released via Scotland Yard, she said: “The Russian Embassy ... have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can.

“At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them.”

But the Russian Embassy called foul on the statement, questioning whether it  “really belongs to Yulia - so far, we doubt it”.

Russia remains the prime suspect for carrying out the attack on Skripal and his daughter.

Meanwhile, the international chemical weapons watchdog has handed its report on the Salisbury nerve agent attack to the UK Government after completing its investigation, the Foreign Office has disclosed.

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She also said in the statement: 

“I have left my father in (Salisbury District Hospital’s) care, and he is still seriously ill. I too am still suffering with the effects of the nerve agent used against us. 

“I find myself in a totally different life than the ordinary one I left just over a month ago, and I am seeking to come to terms with my prospects, whilst also recovering from this attack on me.

“I have specially trained officers available to me, who are helping to take care of me and to explain the investigative processes that are being undertaken. I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can. At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them.

“Most importantly, I am safe and feeling better as time goes by, but I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do. Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.

“I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father’s.

“For the moment I do not wish to speak to the press or the media, and ask for their understanding and patience whilst I try to come to terms with my current situation.”

The Russian Embassy escalated the war of words on Tuesday, saying in a series of statements posted on social media: “Secret resettlement of Mr and Ms Skripal, barred from any contact with their family will be seen as an abduction or at least as their forced isolation.”

Skripal’s release from hospital was met with a similar broadside from the UK embassy, which has repeatedly criticised the handling of the investigation into the attack.

In a statement, a spokesman said: “We congratulate Yulia on her recovery.

“Yet we need urgent proof that what is being done to her is done on her own free will.” 

Continuing the onslaught of scepticism on Wednesday morning, it suggested reports Skripal had turned down consular assistance actually revealed she is being “held hostage by the same people who destroy evidence and fail to come up with a single official account of the crime”.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov previously said it was “outrageous” that Britain had failed to provide consular access to Ms Skripal as news of her improving condition was announced earlier this month.

Her release from hospital was announced by Salisbury District Hospital medical director Dr Christine Blanshard on Tuesday.

She said: “Both patients have responded exceptionally well to the treatment we’ve been providing. But, equally, both patients are at different stages in their recovery.

“I want to take this opportunity to wish Yulia well. This is not the end of her treatment but marks a significant milestone.”

She added: “Although he is recovering more slowly than Yulia, we hope that he too will be able to leave hospital in due course.”

The former double agent was jailed in Russia for selling secrets to MI6 but was released as part of a spy swap deal in 2010 and settled in the UK.

It is hoped he will soon be fit for release from hospital, despite grave fears that the exposure to military-grade nerve agent Novichok on March 4 would prove fatal.

Britain has said that Russian state involvement is the only plausible explanation for the attack and has led a worldwide reaction involving the expulsion of more than 100 diplomats.