Relative wants to visit Skripals in hospital, Russia says

Relative wants to visit Skripals in hospital, Russia says
Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Russia has said that a relative of Salisbury poisoning victims Sergei and Yulia Skripal is planning to visit them in hospital.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow said that Viktoria Skripal had been in contact with the Russian Embassy in London and said she wanted to offer "moral and psychological support" to her relatives.

Ms Skripal is understood to be the niece of former spy Sergei, who remains in a critical condition at Salisbury District Hospital. His daughter was last week said to be improving and to have been able to speak.

Russia has so far been denied consular access to the Skripals, with the Foreign Office explaining that this was granted subject to "a number of considerations, including consent from the individual". Following the latest announcement, a spokesman confirmed that this remains the Foreign Office's position.

It is thought that Viktoria Skripal's proposed visit would also depend on the consent of her relatives.

In a series of tweets issued by the MFA, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: "Russian Embassy contacted with Viktoria Skripal, relative of the Russian victims of the Salisbury incident, Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

"Our diplomats share with her the latest information available to the Russian side about the medical condition of her relatives.

"Viktoria Skripal plans to visit her relatives in the UK to provide moral and psychological support. We consider this an absolutely natural and sincere desire, and especially important now, as Yulia Skripal's condition has reportedly improved."

Viktoria last week told the BBC that she had little hope of her relatives recovering from their poisoning.

"Out of 99% I have maybe 1% of hope," she said. "Whatever it was has given them a very small chance of survival. But they're going to be invalids for the rest of their lives."

She said Sergei's mother had not been told of the attack: "The first priority was to protect our granny so that she wouldn't hear or find out anything."

- PA

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