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Viktoria Skripal requests British PM to reconsider visa issue

Viktoria’s address to May, read out in Russian, was broadcast by Sky News
UK Prime Minister Theresa May AP Photo/Virginia Mayo
UK Prime Minister Theresa May
© AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

LONDON, April 7. /TASS/. Former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal’s niece Viktoria has requested British Prime Minister Theresa May to reconsider her visa issue after her visa application had been rejected.

Viktoria’s address to May, read out in Russian, was broadcast by Sky News.

"What I would like most of all is to see them in person, to have a chance to tell our grandmother the truth about how her son and granddaughter are, but my visa application has been rejected. The whole world is talking about an unprecedented political scandal but there are real people at the scandal’s center. It is our family and we need to be together at the moment," Viktoria Skripal said.

The British authorities earlier rejected Viktoria Skripal's visa application claiming that t "did not comply with the immigration rules."

While commenting on the UK’s decision, a Russian embassy press officer said that it was "regrettable and worrying." "According to a ‘government source’ quoted by the BBC, the visa was denied because ‘it appears the Russian state is trying to use Viktoria as a pawn’. This clearly means that the decision has been taken out of purely political considerations. The Home Office reference to a violation of immigration rules doesn’t hold water. The normal way to correct any violation would be for the British Embassy to advise Ms Skripal on the necessary formalities so as to help her comply with the rules rather than deny the visa altogether," the press officer pointed out. "As a result of this decision, we are witnessing a situation where Sergei and Yulia Skripal, both reported as recovering, remain hidden from the public, media and consular officials, while the only relative who could reasonably expect to see them is kept out of the UK," the embassy added, adding that "the stubborn refusal to cooperate, to provide transparency and to answer the numerous questions means Britain has something to hide," the embassy added.


Skripal saga


On March 4, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.

However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.

On March 26, in the wake of the Skripal incident, a number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Washington expelled 60 diplomatic workers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg. The United Kingdom was requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.