In a plot ripped out of a ‘James Bond’ movie, Yulia Skripal, nearly died after she and her father, a former Russian spy, were poisoned in England! As the authorities get to the bottom of this scandal, get the details.
1. She and her father were poisoned in March. Both Yulia Skripal, 33, and her father, former Russian military intelligence officer and British spy, Sergei Skripal, 66, were found slumped over a bench in the middle of Salisbury, England on March 4, according to the BBC. The couple had flown into London’s Heathrow airport the day before. The two went for a day of shopping before grabbing dinner at Zizzi restaurant. Around 16:15 GMT, the pair was found outside the restaurant in “extremely serious condition.” They were rushed to a hospital and after conducting their investigation, British authorities believe the Skripals were poisoned after being exposed to a nerve agent called Novichok.
2. She’s out of the hospital. Yulia was discharged from the Salisbury District Hospital on April 9, nearly a month after she was poisoned, per The Guardian. “This is not the end of her treatment but marks a significant milestone,” Christine Blanshard, the hospital medical director, said. “Her father has also made good progress. …he was no longer in a critical condition. Although he is recovering more slowly than Yulia, we hope that he too will be able to leave hospital in due course.”
3. This attack has caused a huge international incident. Sergei became a double agent in 1995, passing on Russian state secrets to the British Intelligence agency, MI6. In 2004, he was arrested in Moscow and subsequently found guilty of high reason. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but in 2010, he was part of a spy swap between the US and Russia. Sergei moved to Salisbury in 2011, and authorities claim they discovered traces of Novichok in his home. The UK ultimately blamed the Russians for the attack (which Russia has denied.) From there, it got messy. The UK expelled Russian diplomats, Russia kicked out British diplomats, and Germany stood by the UK to expel Russian diplomats from their country. Relations between Russia and the West got even worse. It’s not Cold War-level, but things have gotten quite frosty between everyone.
4. Yulia was allegedly poisoned by a Soviet-era chemical. Novichok, or “newcomer in Russian, is a chemical developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. This is a more dangerous and sophisticated agent than sarin or VX and is harder to identify,” Professor Gary Stephens, a pharmacology expert at the University of Reading, told the BBC. The nerve agent blocks messages from the nerves to the muscles, causing many bodily functions to shut down. Convulsions, loss of consciousness, coma, wheezing, nausea and vomiting are just a few symptoms of Novichok. The main exposure is through inhalation, but it could also be absorbed through the skin.
5. Yulia is described as “normal girl who wouldn’t hurt anyone.” Yulia has wisely shied away from the public, what with her being the daughter of a double agent. However, pictures of her enjoying a beach vacation surfaced after the attack. “Yulia is usually so happy and full of life – so lovely, smiley and bright,” a friend of hers living in Moscow told the Mirror. “She’s a normal girl who wouldn’t hurt anyone. She doesn’t deserve to have been targeted like this.”
Yulia, a Moscow native, is expected to be secretly resettled in another country with her father. The Russian Embassy has said that “Mr and Ms Skripal, [being] barred from any contact with their family will be seen as an abduction or at least as their forced isolation.”