'We are lucky to be alive': Yulia Skripal in first interview

EPA-EFE  ANDY RAIN

EPA-EFE ANDY RAIN

Yulia Skripal said in her video and written statement she felt lucky to have survived after being a victim of a nerve agent attack and that she would one day like to return home to Russian Federation.

"We'd like Yulia Skripal to know that not a single day passed without the Foreign Ministry, Russia's Embassy in London trying to reach her with the main objective to make sure she was not held against her will, she was not impersonated by somebody else, to get the first-hand information about her and her father's condition", Maria Zakharova said.

Ms Skripal thanked the Russian embassy for its offer of assistance. A lethal nerve agent developed in Russian Federation during the Cold War was blamed for the attack.

The 33-year-old told Reuters that she feels "lucky to be alive" after she was exposed to a suspected Soviet-era nerve agent in Salisbury, Wilts, on March 4.

"I still find it hard to come to terms with the fact that both of us were attacked. In the longer term I hope to return home to my country".

The Russian Embassy in London said it has "every reason to suspect" Yulia is being detained against her will in the UK.

Ms Skripal said that she wants to return to her country "in the longer term", despite being poisoned with a nerve agent.

During their "slow and extremely painful" recovery, she has been struggling to come to terms with "the devastating changes thrust upon me both physically and emotionally", she said. "Moreover, we are not sure about her current state, whether she is being pressured, where she is staying, whether she made any statements and whether she did these statements voluntarily", he said.

She was discharged from a local hospital last month, as was her father last week. In a series of counter-accusations, Russia's ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, has suggested that British security services were behind the operation.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement in the suspected nerve agent attack, claiming it was "staged" by the British government to fuel discontent with Moscow.

She added that she was "shocked" to wake up from a coma 20 days later and discover that they had been poisoned.

Yulia's father was discharged from hospital on May 18. She supplied her own, handwritten translation into English of her statement. "We don't know if she made these statements of her own free will or if she was pressured, we don't know where she is. and what is being done to her and by whom, to what extent her rights are being upheld, and how legally competent she is".

Vladimir Putin says he has concerns about whether Yulia Skripal was forced to make a statement on Wednesday. "So far we have every reason to suspect the opposite", a representative of the Russian embassy in the United Kingdom told reporters.

Skripal arrived in Britain from Russian Federation at London's Heathrow Airport on March 3 on one of her regular visits to see her father. However, UK officials have so far failed to provide evidence linking Moscow to attack, and the claim that the nerve agent could have only been made in Russian Federation has been disputed by London's own European allies.

"I am grateful to all of the wonderful, kind staff at Salisbury hospital, a place I have become all too familiar with".

"Also, I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves", she said. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently noted that if Novichok had been used, the Skripals would have died nearly instantly.

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