(LONDON) — Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned with her ex-spy father in a nerve agent attack, said Wednesday that they’re lucky to be alive and recovery has been slow and painful, in her first public statement since the poisoning.
Skripal, 33, and her 66-year-old father Sergei spent weeks hospitalized in critical condition after they were found unconscious in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.
Britain blames Russia for poisoning them with a military-grade nerve agent — a charge Russia vehemently denies. The poisoning has sparked a Cold War-style diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from both sides.
Yulia was discharged from a local hospital last month, and her father last week. Both have been taken to an undisclosed location for their protection.
In a statement, Yulia Skripal said she and her father are “so lucky to have both survived this attempted assassination.”
She said their recovery had been “slow and extremely painful.”
“I don’t want to describe the details, but the clinical treatment was invasive, painful and depressing,” she said.
Sergei Skripal is a former Russian intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain before coming to the U.K. as part of a 2010 prisoner swap. He had been living quietly in the cathedral city of Salisbury, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of London, when he was struck down.
Britain says the Russian state poisoned the Skripals with a Soviet-designed nerve agent dubbed Novichok. Moscow accuses Britain of failing to provide any evidence and stonewalling Russian requests for information.
Russia’s ambassador to Britain has accused the U.K. government of effectively kidnapping the Skripals and of breaking international law by not granting Russia consular access to them.
Yulia Skripal said that “in the longer term I hope to return home to my country.”
“I’m grateful for the offers of assistance from the Russian Embassy, but at the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services,” she said.
“Also, I want to reiterate what I said in my earlier statement that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.”