Buses wait to carry expelled diplomats to leave the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, April 5, 2018. Russia last week ordered 60 American diplomats to leave the country by Thursday, in retaliation for the United States expelling the same number of Russians. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Daughter of poisoned ex-Russian spy says she’s recovering

Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal

The poisoned daughter of an ex-Russian spy said Thursday she’s recovering quickly after her ordeal, while Russia strongly protested being locked out of the probe into the nerve agent that sickened her and her father.

Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the city of Salisbury. In response, more than two dozen Western allies including Britain, the U.S. and NATO have ordered out over 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity.

Moscow has fiercely denied its involvement in the nerve agent attack and expelled an equal number of envoys. The diplomatic turmoil has hit lows unseen even at the height of the Cold War.

Early Thursday, three buses believed to be carrying expelled American diplomats departed from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow after putting their luggage on trucks. Some toted pet carriers.

READ: Four Canadian diplomats expelled from Russia

Yulia Skripal said in a statement released Thursday 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 British hospital treating the Skripals has confirmed that Yulia’s condition has improved, while her father, 66, has remained in critical condition.

Russian state television on Thursday released an apparent recording of a phone call between Yulia Skripal and her cousin in Russia, though Rossiya TV said it could not verify the recording’s authenticity. In it, Yulia Skripal purportedly says she and her father are both recovering and in normal health. She says her father is sleeping and his health has not been irreparably damaged.

Rossiya TV said Skripal’s niece, Viktoria, who lives in Moscow, gave it the recording of her conversation with Yulia.

READ: US, France, Germany blame Russia for UK nerve agent attack

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, described the British accusations against Moscow over the nerve agent poisoning of the Skripals as a mockery of international law. Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Lavrov insisted that 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.”

Russia last week ordered 60 American diplomats to leave the country by Thursday in retaliation for the United States expelling the same number of Russians.

Lavrov noted that Russia will respond in kind to any further hostile moves, but added “we also want to establish the truth.”

He sarcastically likened the British accusations to the queen from Alice in Wonderland urging “sentence first — verdict afterward.”

On Wednesday, Russia called a meeting of the international chemical weapons watchdog to demand a joint investigation with Britain into the poisoning — the demand that London has rejected.

The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) voted against the Russian proposal, but Moscow said the number of countries that abstained from the vote suggested many have doubts about Britain’s accusations.

“It’s unacceptable to make unfounded accusations instead of conducting a fair investigation and providing concrete facts,” Lavrov said. “Yesterday’s debate in The Hague showed that self-respecting adults don’t believe in fairy tales.”

Asked Thursday if Russia would accept the OPCW’s conclusions, Lavrov said Moscow must be part of the probe and see the evidence.

“We can’t give an advance approval to results of the investigation, in which we aren’t taking part and which is kept secret,” he said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Wednesday that “the purpose of Russia’s ludicrous proposal at The Hague was clear — to undermine the independent, impartial work of the international chemical weapons watchdog.”

The chief of Britain’s defence research lab, the Porton Down laboratory, acknowledged Tuesday it has not been able to pinpoint the precise source of the nerve agent.

Gary Aitkenhead said scientists there identified the substance used on the Skripals as a Soviet-developed nerve agent known as Novichok. But he added “it’s not our job to say where that was actually manufactured.”

Lavrov said Aitkenhead’s statement indicated that Porton Down had samples of Novichok to use it as a marker to determine the type of the nerve agent used in the attack. He noted that Britain has failed to acknowledge yet that it possesses Novichok.

The British government says it relied on a combination of scientific analysis and other intelligence to conclude that the nerve agent came from Russia, but the Foreign Office on Wednesday deleted a tweet from last month that said Porton Down scientists had identified the substance as “made in Russia.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for cybersecurity, Alexander Krutskikh, mocked the contradictory statements, saying Thursday that “the latest developments around the Skripal case indicate the days of this British Cabinet are numbered.”

Moscow has called a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to press its case.

___

Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Danica Kirka And Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Strathcona Regional District looking at pay hikes for board members

The Strathcona Regional District board is planning on a pay raise. At… Continue reading

City still fighting for long-term plan for Snowden

Another letter from the province without ‘tangible response’ spurs mayor to request in-person meeting

Willow Point Summer Market back for third go-round

Now accepting applications for ‘anything and everything,’ but specifically in need of entertainers

Carihi fly fishers earn invite to National Championship

10 students will travel to Maple Ridge next month, but they need your help to get there

Storm sweeps Saanich in semifinals

Despite starting well after the other semi-final series, the Storm now has to wait….

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Most Read