Yulia Skripal, daughter of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, has spoken publicly for the first time since the pair were poisoned with a nerve agent, saying she regained consciousness over a week ago.
The 33-year-old thanked hospital staff in Salisbury, the English city where the attack took place on March 4, and said she was recovering well.
“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,” Skripal said in a statement released on her behalf by London’s Metropolitan Police.
“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,” she said.
“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,” she added.
Yulia and Sergei Skripal were found slumped on a bench at an outdoor shopping complex in Salisbury. UK officials believe they were poisoned with a Russian-made nerve agent, Novichok. Russia denies involvement.
Yulia Skripal has so far declined the Russian Embassy’s offer of consular assistance following the attack, the UK Foreign Office said Thursday.
The Russian Embassy in the UK has repeatedly said it requested consular access to Yulia and Sergei Skripal, but that it had been “denied.”
The poisoning has led to a spiraling diplomatic dispute between the two nations.
Russia called a second United Nations Security Council meeting on Thursday, seeking to undermine Britain’s case that it was responsible for the attack.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia blasted the UK and called the allegations against Russia a “fake story.” He warned that the UK was “playing with fire and they will be sorry.”
Nebenzia accused the UK of turning other countries against Russia. “You started a wave that even reached New York,” he said.
Earlier, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Alexander Yakovenko said he was “really happy” about Yulia Skripal’s recovery and that he hoped she would come back to Moscow where she has a job and apartment.”
Speaking to reporters at the Russian Embassy in London on Thursday, Yakovenko said he hoped Sergei Skripal would also recover. Asked whether he might return also, Yakovenko said: “That is his choice. He decided to live here in the UK, no problem. Because from the point of the Russian state, Russia has no problem with him.”
Recording: ‘Everyone is getting better’
The release of Yulia’s statement came shortly after a Russian state TV station reported that her cousin Viktoria Skripal claimed to have spoken to her by phone and had provided a recording.
Russia-1 said it “cannot confirm the authenticity of this recording, we do not know how or under what circumstances it happened.” It said Viktoria claimed the recording was of a phone call that took place Wednesday evening.
CNN was also unable to confirm the authenticity or veracity of the recording.
In the recording, a woman who says she is Yulia tells Viktoria “everyone is getting better and everyone is alive.”
Asked about her father, the woman says: “He’s OK, he is resting, he sleeps.”
She adds: “Everyone’s health is fine and with everyone, there is nothing that is not reparable.”
The woman adds that she will soon discharge herself from the hospital.
The second woman – purportedly Viktoria – says she is trying to get a visa and that she needs the other woman to give her permission to come to see her.
Envoy: Cousin waiting for British visa
During his news conference, Yakovenko said Viktoria wanted to visit Yulia and was “waiting for the visa in Moscow, a British visa. We will see what will be the outcome of that visit.”
He also complained that Russia had been given no information by UK authorities on the condition of the Skripals.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said: “We are pleased that Yulia’s condition has improved and pay tribute to the medical staff who have been treating her and Mr Skripal since they were attacked.
“We have conveyed to Ms Skripal the Russian Embassy’s offer of consular assistance. Ms Skripal is now able to choose if and when to take up this offer, but to date she has not done so.”
Salisbury District Hospital revealed a week ago that Yulia’s Skripal’s health was “improving rapidly,” although her father, 66, remained in a critical but stable condition.
UK police believe they came into contact with the military-grade nerve agent on Sergei Skripal’s front door.
CNN’s Emma Burrows, Schams Elwazer, Sebastian Shukla, Katie Polglase Richard Roth and Kara Fox contributed to this report.