Poisoned Russian spy no longer in critical condition

Doctors treating Sergei Skripal said he is "improving rapidly" after a nerve agent attack last month in Britain

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 09, 2006, former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal attends a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in Moscow.
The head of the British military facility analysing the Novichok nerve agent used to poison Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, said on April 3, 2018, that it has "not verified the precise source" of the substance. Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Porton Down defence laboratory, told Britain's Sky News that analysts had identified it as military-grade novichok, but they had not proved it was made in Russia. / AFP PHOTO / Kommersant Photo / Yuri SENATOROV / Russia OUT
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Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is no longer in critical condition and is "improving rapidly" after being poisoned with a toxic nerve agent last month in southern England, the hospital treating him said on Friday.

"He is responding well to treatment, improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition," Christine Blanshard, medical director at Salisbury District Hospital, said.

Last week, the hospital said that the condition of Mr Skripal's daughter Yulia, who was also poisoned in the attack in Salisbury, had improved to stable.

The pair were found critically ill on a public bench on March 4, and a policeman who attended the scene was also taken to hospital.

Britain has said it is "highly likely" that Russia was behind the attack, which has caused increased tensions between the Kremlin and the West. Moscow has angrily denied all involvement.

The attack has had major diplomatic ramifications, with mass expulsions of Russian and Western diplomats.

On Friday, a spokesperson from the UK's foreign office said the government is "very pleased" that the Skripals are improving, although he warned that both father and daughter "are likely to have ongoing medical needs".

"Let us be clear, this was attempted murder using an illegal chemical weapon that we know Russia possesses," the spokesperson added.


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On Thursday, Ms Skripal, 33, released a statement through UK police saying her strength was improving.

“I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to say my strength is growing daily. I am grateful for the interest in me and for the many messages of goodwill that I have received," the statement issued on behalf of Ms Skripal reads.

“I have many people to thank for my recovery and would especially like to mention the people of Salisbury that came to my aid when my father and I were incapacitated. Further than that, I would like to thank the staff at Salisbury District Hospital for their care and professionalism.

“I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”

It came just hours after Russian state TV aired an alleged phone conversation between Ms Skripal and a relative, in which she apparently said she and her father were both on the mend, and that she expects to be discharged from hospital soon.

"Everything is fine [with my father]. He is resting now, he is sleeping. Everyone's health is fine. There is nothing that is irreversible. That's it, I'll be discharged soon. Everything is OK," she said.

Dr Blanshard said that she was providing the update in response to "intense media coverage yesterday".