The latest bizarre twist in the Skripal case came earlier today in the form of remarkable transcript Viktoria Skripal has provided of what she claims is a telephone conversation she has had with Yulia Skripal, who is currently in Salisbury hospital recovering from the Novichok attack.
My colleague Vladimir Rodzianko has set out this transcript in full.
There have been some attempts to cast doubt on the authenticity of this transcript. However Viktoria Skripal vouches for it so for the moment I se no reason to doubt its truth.
The most remarkable single comment in the transcript is the following one from Yulia Skripal
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: Ok! Is everything alright with your father?
Yulia: Everything is ok. He is resting now, having a nap. Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok.
(bold italics added)
Taken at fact value these comments suggest that Sergey Skripal is also getting better and is expected to make a complete recovery. This despite the fact that he was allegedly subjected to a Novichok chemical attack for which Porton Down’s chief executive Gary Aitkenhead has said there is no antidote.
Of course it could be that the British authorities have not fully informed Yulia Skripal about her father’s condition, or it may be that Yulia Skripal was unwilling to share the full truth about her father’s condition with her cousin.
The entire transcript in fact gives the strong impression – at least in translation – that Yulia Skripal feels deeply constrained about what she feels able to say.
It is also striking that she seems to know that the British authorities intend to deny Viktoria Skripal a visa (on what grounds one wonders?).
This comes just days after John Helmer pointed out that one of the first things Yulia Skripal might have been expected to do after she recovered consciousness was speak by telephone to her family in Russia.
That didn’t happen, and now that a call finally was made Yulia Skripal’s comments – on a “temporary phone”, whatever that means – seem strangely guarded.
Perhaps Yulia Skripal does not want to speak to her family, or have contact with the Russian consulate (which is trying to gain access to her), or have any contact with anyone from Russia. Possibly she is frightened about doing so following the attack on her and her father.
I have to say however that the strange statement the British authorities released on her behalf today – with its curious emphasis on her desire for privacy – begs more questions, all the more so as it appears intended to deter questions from being put to her
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.
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
(bold italics added)
The statement was published shortly after Viktoria Skripal’s transcript of her conversation with Yulia was published by the Russian media. It seems very fluently constructed and uses perfect idiomatic English, suggesting that someone helped Yulia Skripal craft it.
Frankly it looks like a statement rushed out after the appearance of the transcript and intended to prevent Viktoria Skripal or anyone else from calling Yulia Skripal in order to ask questions like the ones which appear in the transcript.
The questions about the Skripal case go on mounting, and it seems that someone is none too keen to provide answers.