18 May 2019 16:12

Sergei and Yulia Skripal are alive, but not available for contact - relative

YAROSLAVL. May 18 (Interfax) - Former Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, who were poisoned in April 2018 in Salisbury, the United Kingdom, are alive, but they are not maintaining contacts with their relatives in Russia, Viktoria Skripal, Sergei's niece, said in an interview with Interfax on Saturday.

"As far as I know, [Sergei Skripal] is safe and sound. Everything is fine with him. And with Yulia, too. I have no precise information on their whereabouts," Viktoria Skripal said.

Viktoria said she was aware about her relatives' health "thirdhand," as she had not contacted Yulia since July 2018. As for Sergei Skripal's mother, who is living together with Viktoria in Yaroslavl, she has not heard from him lately, either, she said.

Yulia does not seem to be planning to return to Moscow from the UK, Viktoria said.

"Her apartment is on sale. Yulia's friend is handling the sale. I am not in touch with her," she said.

Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of Russia's military intelligence agency, GRU, was found guilty of high treason and spying for the UK and sentenced to imprisonment in 2006. The president pardoned him and a number of other persons in 2010 to be exchanged for Russian intelligence officers exposed in the United States. The UK granted Skripal asylum and citizenship.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious in Salisbury, the United Kingdom, on March 4, 2018. British investigators later concluded that the two were poisoned with a nerve agent called Novichok (A-234). A commission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) later confirmed these findings. London has put the blame for the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal on Russia. Moscow has dismissed these accusations.