The former intelligence agent’s cousin, 65-year-old Natalia Pestova, who lives in Siberia, has spoken out amid reports that the father and daughter could be granted political asylum and even new identities, possibly in the United States. She had touched upon the issue of the telephone conversation between Yulia and her cousin, Viktoria, last week, concerned that Yulia was being told what to say.
“We are very confused by what Yulia said – she didn’t quite sound like her usual self. Naturally we understand she can’t be her usual self after the poisoning and the shock of what happened to her. And yet the feeling from hearing her voice that she wasn’t speaking at her own initiative. I wonder if she is in fact in some kind of detention [in Britain],” the Daily Mail cited Pestova as saying.
Speaking on the phone with Yulia, Viktoria promised to visit her if her visa was approved, the former, however, answered that it was unlikely.
“It’s so hard not to be able to talk to her or see her, to make a judgement. There is too much room for rumors and no proper stream of reliable information. It’s incredibly hard to understand who is lying and why, who is playing [a] double game, and who is telling the truth,” Pestova told the media outlet.
Last week, Viktoria had a phone conversation with a woman she said was Yulia, having recorded the call; the authenticity of the audio is yet to be verified. The woman identifying as the ex-spy’s daughter, told Viktoria that she was fine, everyone was alive and recovering.
READ MORE: Skripal's Niece Viktoria Opens Up on Why Yulia is Eager to Return to Russia
Viktoria told The Sunday Telegraph that British authorities allegedly feared that the Kremlin was behind her planned trip to Britain, that’s why they denied her a visa. On April 6, she didn’t get a visa to the UK on the grounds that her “application did not comply with the Immigration Rules,” Viktoria is determined to send a letter to Theresa May to ask her to reconsider the visa issue.
On March 4, Skripals collapsed after allegedly being exposed to a military-grade nerve agent, A234 in Salisbury, UK. British authorities have immediately accused Russia of “attempted murder” without providing evidence; Moscow has consistently denied involvement in the incident, offering cooperation in the investigation and demanding facts supporting the accusations.