Sergei Skripal’s poisoning has sparked a tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute between the UK and Russia. Photograph: Misha Japaridze/AP
Former spy poisoned with nerve agent is responding well to treatment, says Salisbury hospital
06 April 2018 | Wires | The Guardian
‘Sergei Skripal is “responding well to treatment, improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition”, doctors at Salisbury district hospital have said.
Dr Christine Blanshard, medical director at the hospital, said: “Following intense media coverage yesterday, I would like to take the opportunity to update you on the condition of the two remaining patients being treated at Salisbury district hospital.
“Last Thursday, I informed you that Yulia Skripal’s condition had improved to stable. As Yulia herself says, her strength is growing daily and she can look forward to the day when she is well enough to leave the hospital.”
She added: “I also want to update you on the condition of her father, Sergei Skripal. He is responding well to treatment, improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition.”
The news comes a day after Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned along with her former spy father in a nerve agent attack that has caused international tensions after the UK said that it held the Russian government was responsible, released a statement through the Metropolitan police in which she said she was getting stronger by the day. (See below)
After the news of Mr Skripal’s improved condition was reported on Twitter, the Russian Embassy to the UK tweeted: “Good news!”
In a separate telephone conversation apparently recorded by her cousin Viktoria in Moscow, Yulia was asked about her father’s condition and said: “Everything’s OK, he’s resting now, he’s sleeping. Everyone’s health is OK. No one has had any irreversible [harm].” (See below)
Russian TV Airs Yulia Skripal Phone Call With A Relative: She and Dad Are Fine
Two guinea pigs found dead at Salisbury home of ex-spy while a cat needed to be put down
“Two guinea pigs belonging to Sergei Skripal died and his cat was put down after the Salisbury nerve agent attack, the government has revealed.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the dead guinea pigs and a “distressed” cat were discovered when a vet was able to enter Skripal’s home, which had been sealed off during the police investigation. Defra said it believed the guinea pigs had died of thirst.
Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, remain in hospital more than a month after the attack on 4 March. In its latest update, NHS England said the former Russian spy’s condition was critical but stable.
On Thursday, Yulia Skripal released a statement through the Metropolitan policein which said she was getting stronger by the day.
A war of words has continued between Britain and Russia over claims that the Kremlin was responsible for the attack using the nerve agent novichok.
On Thursday, in heated exchanges at the UN security council, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, dismissing the allegation that Russia was behind the poisoning as “absurd”, questioned what had happened to Sergei Skripal’s two cats and two guinea pigs.
“What happened to these animals? Why doesn’t anyone mention them? Their condition is also an important piece of evidence,” he said.
The highest concentration of novichok was found on the front door of Skripal’s home.
The Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, had also raised the fate of the pets. “Where are the animals? What state are they in?” she asked on Wednesday.
“Why has the British side … not mentioned this fact? We are talking about living organisms, and if toxic agents were used then living organisms must have suffered.”
After Defra, released a statement about the deaths of the animals, Zakharova continued to suggest that an alleged cover-up by the British authorities also extended to Skripal’s pets. “Is that normal practice?” she asked in a Facebook post, claiming the guinea pigs and cat could have been “important evidence in this poisoning case”. She also remarked that Porton Down, the government research facility nearby, had experimented on guinea pigs over the years. “The more we know, the worse the picture looks,” she wrote.
The Sun reported that Skripal’s black cat, Nash Van Drake, was put down after being tested at Porton Down, where he was found to be severely malnourished.
A Defra spokeswoman said a decision was taken by a veterinary surgeon to euthanise the cat to alleviate its suffering, and that it was taken in the best interests of the animal and its welfare.
She did not mention the second cat referred to by Nebenzia.