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Niece of Novichok victim distrusts London’s allegations — newspaper

Viktoria Skripal said that reports about two Russian nationals suspected of being behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may prove to be hoax

MOSCOW, September 6. /TASS/. Viktoria Skripal, the niece of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who allegedly suffered from a nerve gas attack in the British town of Salisbury, has warned against taking the UK authorities’ statements at face value.

In an interview with the newspaper Izvestia that came out on Thursday, she said that the reports about two Russian nationals suspected of being behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may turn out to be hoax.

She said that she was skeptical about the theory that the two Russians had been involved in the nerve gas attack against her uncle. In her words, it looked more like UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to make amends before the parliament. “After all, six months have passed. It was precisely six months since the poisoning on September 4. I have only one question: if the British knew about this so well, why didn’t they announce it earlier?" Viktoria Skripal asked.

She said the investigator’s theory that the two men had used fake Russia passports seems rather flimsy and the photos of the suspects could have been photoshopped.

Apart from that, she said she was perplexed why the British authorities had been objecting against her meeting with the uncle and the cousin sister in the United Kingdom. "Today, Theresa May said she had no claims to Russian nationals. <…> Then why they don’t let me, a petty Russian citizen, enter [the United Kingdom] to see the people in difficult straits. The more so as these people are my family," she said.

In her words, she is currently helping Sergei Skripal’s 90-year-old mother, Elena Yakovlevna, receive a foreign passport in a hope she would be granted a British visa to see her son. "Six months past but the son has never called his mother. <…> I don’t think they will let me visit the UK next year. I wish I could do it in ten years," she added.

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May told the parliament that the Crown Prosecution Service was ready to charge two Russian citizens - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - with an attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. She claimed that the two were GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate) officers and the operation had been "approved at a senior level of the Russian state." Scotland Yard has published their photographs. British police officials say the suspects’ names are possibly fictitious.

Salisbury and Amesbury incidents

Britain claims that Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were affected by a nerve gas of the Novichok class in Salisbury on March 4. The British government claimed that Russia was highly likely involved in this incident. Moscow strongly dismissed all speculations on that score, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia had ever had programs for making such agents. Britain’s military chemical laboratory at Porton Down has failed to establish the origin of the substance that poisoned the Skripals.

Two British nationals - Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charles Rawley, suffering from heroin addiction - were taken to hospital in Amesbury in critical condition on June 30. The Scotland Yard official in charge of the investigation later speculated that both had been poisoned by Novichok. On July 8, it was announced that Sturgess had died in hospital. On July 20, Rawley was discharged from hospital only to be admitted again due to vision problems.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the British police were pushing ahead with the investigation into Salisbury and Amesbury poisonings as one case.