Isn’t it interesting that, despite allegedly being clobbered by a nerve agent that should leave them seriously ill for the rest of their tragically-shortened lives, both Yulia and now Sergei Skripal are said to be on the mend?
Russian news agencies have released a transcript of a telephone conversation they allege took place between Ms Skripal and her cousin Viktoria, earlier today (April 5). According to BBC News, it runs as follows:
Alleged Yulia: Hello. Do you hear me?
Viktoria: Yes, I hear you.
Alleged Yulia: It is Yulia Skripal.
Viktoria: Oh, Yulka [diminutive of Yulia] it is you! I recognise from your voice that it is you but cannot understand. So, they gave you a telephone, didn’t they?
Alleged Yulia: Yes, yes.
Viktoria: Thanks God! Yulyash [diminutive of Yulia], is everything okay with you?
Alleged Yulia: Everything is ok, everything is fine.
Viktoria: Look, if tomorrow I get a (British) visa, I will come to you on Monday.
Alleged Yulia: Vika, no-one will give you the visa.
Viktoria: Well I thought so too. Oh well.
Alleged Yulia: Most likely.
Viktoria: If they give it, I need you to tell me whether I can visit you or not, tell me that I can.
Alleged Yulia: I think no, there is such a situation now, we’ll sort it out later.
Viktoria: I know it, I know it all.
Alleged Yulia: Later, we will get it sorted later, everything’s fine, we’ll see later.
Viktoria: Is it your phone?
Alleged Yulia: It is a temporary phone. Everything is fine, but we’ll see how it goes, we’ll decide later. You know what the situation is here. Everything is fine, everything is solvable, everyone (he and her father) is recovering and is alive.
Viktoria: Clear! Is everything ok with your father?
Alleged Yulia: Everything is ok. He is resting now, having a sleep. Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok.
Viktoria: Kisses, my bunny.
Alleged Yulia: Bye.
The Metropolitan police has released a statement from Yulia, apparently in response to the Russian television report – but it does not mention the telephone conversation. The Guardian reported it as follows:
“I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to say my strength is growing daily,” she is reported as saying in the statement. “I am grateful for the interest in me and for the many messages of goodwill that I have received.
“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.”
Note that she does say “when my father and I were incapacitated” [bolding mine]. Does this indicate an admission that he isn’t incapacitated any more?
The paper reported that, “If Mr Skripal is “fine”, it will be a remarkable turnaround from the previous detailed prognosis that emerged.
“A high court judgement related to the case and published following a hearing across 20, 21 and 22 March revealed that both Skripals were heavily sedated.
“’The precise effect of their exposure on their long-term health remains unclear, albeit medical tests indicate that their mental capacity might be compromised to an unknown and so far unascertained degree,’ the judgment said.”
Blogger and former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, whose observations on the case have been far more reliable than those of the UK government, had this to say:
I have just listened to the released alleged phone conversation between Yulia Skripal in Salisbury Hospital and her cousin Viktoria, which deepens the mystery further. I should say that in Russian the conversation sounds perfectly natural to me. My concern is after the 30 seconds mark where Viktoria tells Yulia she is applying for a British visa to come and see Yulia.
Yulia replies “nobody will give you a visa”. Viktoria then tells Yulia that if she is asked if she wants Viktoria to visit, she should say yes. Yulia’s reply to this is along the lines of “that situation will not happen”, meaning she would not be allowed by the British to see Viktoria. I apologise my Russian is very rusty for a Kremlinbot, and someone might give a better translation, but this key response from Yulia is missing from all the transcripts I have seen.
What is there about Yulia’s situation that makes her feel a meeting between her and her cousin will be prevented by the British government? And why would Yulia believe the British government will not give her cousin a visa in the circumstance of these extreme family illnesses?
Looking at the transcript, it seems likely that he is making an alternative translation of the part where Yulia Skripal states: “I think no, there is such a situation now, we’ll sort it out later.”
It seems clear, either way, that she is saying the UK authorities will not allow anybody from Russia to visit the Skripals. Mr Murray is, therefore, justified in asking why.
It is just one of many questions about the UK government’s behaviour that Theresa May and her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson need to answer – but they seem resolutely silent.
Labour MP Chris Williamson appeared on Russia Today to confirm what This Site stated yesterday – that the UK’s international reputation is in tatters after the Tories made such a huge mess of the Salisbury poisoning affair:
His words about Mr Johnson, in particular, were supported by these commenters to The Guardian:
This has arguably been Boris Johnson’s first real, serious test as the UK’s leading diplomat, and he has failed it spectacularly. In normal times, what we have seen over the last few weeks would be more than enough to sack him.
They made accusations which they have not yet been able to adequately back up with facts and evidence, which just makes them look incredibly foolish and incompetent. Truly embarrassing for the UK.
Finally, there is the small fact that Mrs May and Mr Johnson have both broken the Ministerial Code.
At section 1.3.a, the Code states: “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”
It seems that both Mr Johnson and Mrs May have knowingly misled Parliament.
When may we expect their resignations?
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