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Yulia Skripal (right) and her father Sergei: Held under duress?

Salisbury poisoning victim Yulia Skripal, who was released from hospital earlier this week, has in turn released a statement via the Metropolitan Police. It’s just a shame that she didn’t write it.

I could be wrong, of course. But there seem to be contradictions and nuances of language that suggest I am not.

Here‘s the statement:

“I was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital on the 9th April 2018. I was treated there with obvious clinical expertise and with such kindness, that I have found I missed the staff immediately.

“I have left my father in their care, and he is still seriously ill. I too am still suffering with the effects of the nerve agent used against us.

“I find myself in a totally different life than the ordinary one I left just over a month ago, and I am seeking to come to terms with my prospects, whilst also recovering from this attack on me.

“I have specially trained officers available to me, who are helping to take care of me and to explain the investigative processes that are being undertaken. I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can. At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them.

“Most importantly, I am safe and feeling better as time goes by, but I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do. Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves. I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father’s.

“For the moment I do not wish to speak to the press or the media, and ask for their understanding and patience whilst I try to come to terms with my current situation.”

It was immediately criticised by former ambassador to Uzbekistan (now an influential blogger) Craig Murray. On Twitter, he wrote:

On his blog, he expanded on his concerns:

“There is also the very serious question of the language it is written in. Yulia Skripal lived part of her childhood in the UK and speaks good English. But the above statement is in a particular type of formal, official English of a high level which only comes from a certain kind of native speaker.

“’At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services’ – wrote no native Russian speaker, ever.

“Nor are the rhythms or idioms such as would in any way indicate a translation from Russian. Take “I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father’s.” Not only is this incredibly cold given her first impulse was to phone her cousin, the language is just wrong. It is not the English Yulia would write and it is awkward to translate into Russian, thus not a natural translation from it.

“To put it plainly, as someone who has much experience of it, the English of the statement is precisely the English of an official in the UK security services and precisely not the English of somebody like Yulia Skripal or of a natural translation from Russian.”

Many others have picked up on the strange use of language.

As a writer, I avail myself of such words quite often. But then, I am a writer and I like to exercise my command of my own language. I don’t hear other people using that expression unless I am in rarified company, so I think these critics are right.

And then there’s the discrepancy between the phone call, in which Ms Skripal described her father’s health as “fine”, and the statement, in which she said he was “seriously ill”. Has he had a relapse?

We can only conclude that Ms Skripal’s words are not her own and that she is not free to go about her own business.

In effect, the UK government has kidnapped this poor woman, is attributing words to her that are not her own, and is most likely trying to indoctrinate her into believing its unlikely claims about what happened to her, while depriving her of access to alternative viewpoints.

It seems clear, then, that the government are the bad guys in this situation. But so, it seems, is the Russian government.

Are there any good guys?

Of course, the best indication of what happened to the Skripals would be offered by the record of their medical treatment.

It is significant that no information about that has been released to the public and no staff at Salisbury District Hospital have been at liberty to discuss the matter since one doctor wrote to the papers, informing them that nobody had been exposed to any kind of nerve agent at all.

The hospital is on lockdown, under the orders of the UK government, it seems.

But this is a matter of public interest and we have a right to know – especially as this case is being used to create hostility between our country and Russia.

It affects us all.

We demand the facts.


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