Nerve agent victim Yulia Skripal leaves hospital

SALISBURY (England) • Ms Yulia Skripal has been discharged from hospital, more than a month after she and her father, a former Russian spy, were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent.

Ms Skripal and Mr Sergei Skripal, 66 - a former colonel in the Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of spies to Britain's foreign intelligence service - were found unconscious on a public bench in the city of Salisbury on March 4.

Britain has accused Russia of being behind the attack, and the affair has blown up into one of Russia's biggest crises with the West since the Cold War.

Britain, the United States and other Western governments have expelled scores of Russian diplomats while Moscow has retaliated in kind. Father and daughter were in critical condition for weeks, and doctors at one point feared that, even if they survived, they might have suffered brain damage. But the Skripals' health since then has begun to improve rapidly.

Ms Skripal, 33, has been discharged from Salisbury District Hospital, said medical director Christine Blanshard, adding that Mr Skripal has made good progress and is no longer in a critical condition.

She said: "This is not the end of her treatment, but marks a significant milestone. Although her father is recovering more slowly than Yulia, we hope that he too will be able to leave hospital in due course."

Russia has denied Britain's charges of involvement in the first known offensive use of such a nerve agent on European soil since World War II.

Dr Blanshard said doctors had first sought to stabilise the Skripals to ensure that they could breathe, and that blood could circulate.

"We also used specialised decontamination techniques to remove any residual toxins."

The BBC said Ms Skripal left hospital on Monday night and is now in a safe place.

The Russian Embassy in London said it would consider any secret resettlement as an abduction of its citizens.

If the pair were secretly resettled, the opportunity to hear their version of events would be lost, the embassy added.

"The world, while having no opportunity to interact with them, will have every reason to see this as an abduction of the two Russian nationals, or at least, as their isolation," the embassy said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2018, with the headline 'Nerve agent victim Yulia Skripal leaves hospital'. Print Edition | Subscribe