The niece of former MI6 double-agent Sergei Skripal suspects her uncle could be dead as he has not been photographed or seen in public since he was poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent, Novichok.
Mr Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were left seriously ill after coming into contact with the allegedly Russian-made nerve agent in Salisbury in March this year.
Now his niece, Viktoria Skripal, 46, says her uncle has still not been in contact with his family back home in Russia and they have not heard from Yulia since the end of July.
She says that if Mr Skripal had still been alive, he would have been ‘shown to the public’ a long time ago.
God forbid, but either he is no longer alive, or he is in such a state that there is nothing to show at all.
Of course he could have refused it himself, but it might be the Litvinenko situation all over again – they would have shown him unless there is nothing to show.
Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian secret service who defected and was granted asylum in the UK. He died in 2006 after being poisoned by radioactive polonium-210.
Viktoria added that Sergei’s mother, Elena Yakovlena, was also very worried, and has been waiting for him to call.
Yulia is said to have called on July 24, and said her father was recovering and would be able to get in touch in three days. But, nearly a month later, there has reportedly still been no call.
[Elena] has been in the dark before, then they give her hope, but… they did not give her the son. She is suffering because she cannot see him or even hear from him.
She also said she believes Yulia was being forcibly held in Salisbury, and says her cousin was close to tears last time they spoke.
She must still have her hands tied. Although she says she is free.
The 46-year-old also claims to have been turned down twice by Britain after applying for a visa to visit her family in Salisbury.
Viktoria Skripal is reportedly widely seen in Britain as an instrument of the Russian government who is being used to put pressure on the British authorities over the attack, which Theresa May has blamed on Moscow.
Yulia and Sergei Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on March 4, after they had been for a meal together prior to the symptoms of the apparent Novichok poisoning beginning to show.
Russian suspects have reportedly been identified. Moscow, however, denies any involvement in the incident, reports the BBC.
A few months later, Salisbury unfrotunately made headlines again after another couple fell ill only a few miles from where the Skripals were found.
It was revealed the pair, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, had also been exposed to Novichok. 44-year-old Sturgess died as a result of the incident, while Mr Rowley remains in critical condition.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.