British media reports about former GRU agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia having received first aid after the nerve agent attack from a UK military colonel, chief nursing officer Alison McCourt and her 16-year-old daughter Abigail, are much in line with a range of “stunning coincidences” over the Salisbury incident, a statement released by the Russian Embassy in the UK reads.
“If this is true, let us express sincere admiration and gratitude to Abigail for having saved the lives of our two compatriots. At the same time, we have to say that these reports, as many others related to the Salisbury case, are unofficial and unverifiable”, the embassy pointed out.
“Moreover, the fact that Abigail was present at the crime scene together with her mother, Alison McCourt, who happens to be a Colonel and the Chief Nursing Officer of the British Army, adds to the numerous extraordinary coincidences characteristic of the Skripals poisoning. Furthermore, one has to wonder why this information, unusual as it is, has only been made public ten months after the incident”, the embassy went on.
Russian diplomats stated that they would continue to demand that London clarify the whole picture of what happened in Salisbury, provide Russian with access to the Skripals, who are Russian nationals, and “begin a truly open and cooperative investigation, instead of continuing to classify information”.
“This would be in the interests of both ordinary Brits, such as Abigail McCourt. Her resolute actions have deserved the award but the secrecy surrounding this case will make people doubt whether she actually saved the Skripals following an A-234 poisoning, or was unwillingly used as a pawn in an operation by British security services”, the diplomats underscored, adding:
“The UK has never allowed Russia to verify its conclusions as to the chemical composition of the substance used, either bilaterally or through established OPCW procedures. One has to wonder why”.
It emerged via British media earlier that Abigail McCourt, accompanied by her mother Col. Alison McCourt, happened to be near the Skripals as the pair collapsed on a bench, and rushed to help them, thinking he had suffered a heart attack, Abigail, who learned first aid at school, told the Salisbury-based radio station Spire FM. She spoke to the radio station after winning a Spire FM local hero award, having been nominated for it by her “immensely proud” mother. Hospital tests found Abigail hadn’t been contaminated by the deadly nerve agent, despite her reportedly giving first aid to the poisoned Skripals, while Dawn Sturgess fell ill in Amesbury months after the incident and died in hospital in July after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the attack.
Referring to the ongoing investigation as “a dirty provocation”, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Sergei Naryshkin stated that London is destroying evidence related to the Skripal case. “They started doing so the moment the incident took place. Not to mention the fact that they are keeping mum on where our citizens Yulia Skripal and her father are now. Why are they hiding [them]?" Naryshkin said when asked to comment on sanctions against two Russian nationals over their alleged role in the Skripal case.
In early December, Naryshkin said that the truth can only be uncovered through a professional, joint investigation by both Russia and the UK, adding that the British side had rejected all Russian offers (over 70 diplomatic notes) to help with the probe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in turn, said that the fact that it remains unclear where the Skripals currently are proves that the UK government and intelligence has "something to hide" about the matter.
Former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found lying unconscious on a bench at a Salisbury shopping mall on 4 March. London instantly accused the Kremlin of facilitating the alleged chemical weapons attack on the Skripals, while Moscow, in turn, stressed that the UK is yet to present any proof of Russian involvement.