The niece of Sergei Skripal referred to the Salisbury pizzeria after visiting which her uncle and his daughter had been found by policemen after the March 4 incident. She pointed out that the two allegedly ordered fugu fish — quite a surprising suggestion as this dish is part of Japanese cuisine, and should be carefully prepared to avoid a lethal poisoning. The Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury does not offer any fugu-based dish in its menu.
"Is it difficult to obtain an account and see what people ordered at the restaurant? For some reason this information is classified. Did they eat some unknown dish that you cannot eat? Or is it forbidden in England?" Victoria Skripal said.
Fugu can be lethally poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin; therefore, it must be carefully prepared. The restaurant preparation of fugu, which is served as sashimi and chirinabe, is strictly controlled by law in Japan and several other countries, and only chefs who have qualified after three or more years of rigorous training are allowed to prepare the fish. Domestic preparation occasionally leads to accidental death.
According to police, Skripals had a drink at The Bishop's Mill pub and then ate lunch at Italian restaurant Zizzi, leaving around 3:35pm. However, it hasn't been immediately clear what exactly did they order.
The version voiced by Victoria Skripal has been one of numerous suggestions concerning the poisoning of the former spy and his daughter.
She also noted that the story of the Skripals being poisoned by a nerve agent from the door of Skripal's house holds no water. According to her, police conducted a search in Skripal's house, where she said lived "two cats and two guinea pigs."
Sergei Skripal's Niece Claims She Spoke With Yulia by the Phone
The niece of Sergei Skripal has also alleged in an interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel that she had spoken with her cousin Yulia. The alleged audio recording of their phone conversation has been broadcast, however, the authenticity of the tape hasn't been verified.
During the alleged phone talks, Victoria Skripal speaks with a woman, who names herself as Yulia Skripal and says that she's "fine." In her turn, during the alleged conversation, Victoria says that she'll fly to London on Monday, with her interlocutor responding that "nobody will give a visa."
She alleged that the call had taken place just hours before the UK authorities' announcement that Yukia Skripal had regained consciousness and the ability to talk.
Below is a complete transcript of the conversation:
Alleged Yulia: Hello. Do you hear me?
Viktoria: Yes, I hear you.
Alleged Yulia: It's Yulia Skripal.
Viktoria: Oh, Yulka [diminutive of Yulia] it's you! I recognize from your voice that it is you but could not understand. They gave you a phone?
Alleged Yulia: Yes, yes, yes.
Viktoria: Thank God! Yulyash [diminutive of Yulia], is everything okay with you?
Alleged Yulia: Everything is ok, everything is fine.
Viktoria: Look, if tomorrow I get a [British] visa, I'll come see you on Monday.
Alleged Yulia: Vika [diminutive of Yulia], no-one will give you the visa.
Viktoria: I thought so too. Oh well.
Alleged Yulia: Most likely.
Viktoria: If they do give me one, I need you to tell me whether I can visit you or not, tell me that I can.
Alleged Yulia: I think no, the situation is such right now, we'll sort it out later.
Viktoria: I know it, I know it all.
Alleged Yulia: Later, we will get it sorted later, everything's fine, we'll see later.
Viktoria: Is this your phone?
Alleged Yulia: It's a temporary phone. Everything is fine, but we'll see how everything goes; we'll decide later. You know yourself what the situation is here. Everything is fine, everything can be worked out, everyone is recovering and everyone is alive.
Viktoria: I understand! Is everything ok with your father?
Alleged Yulia: Everything is ok. He is resting now, sleeping. Everyone's health is fine, there are no irreparable issues. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok.
Viktoria: Ok, kisses, my bunny.
Alleged Yulia: Ok, bye-bye.
The recording was reportedly made on the morning of 5 April.
Earlier, Victoria told Russia's Rossiya 24 TV Channel that she wants to fly to London to take Yulia Skripal to Russia.
"As far as Sergei Viktorovich [Skripal] is concerned, everything is much more complicated there. So right now I will keep neutrality both towards the UK and us," she pointed out.
When asked whether Yulia Skripal was involved in politics, Victoria said that "there was no political component in her life."
Victoria added that she communicated with her uncle two weeks before the Salisbury incident, learning about his and his daughter being poisoned from media outlets at 18:00 Moscow time (15-00 GMT).
On Wednesday, the Russian Embassy in Britain said that the UK Foreign Office had refused to share with Moscow samples of the substance allegedly used in the Skripal poisoning, and failed to respond to Moscow's inquiries regarding Sergei Skripal's treatment.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Russia hadn't received the conclusions of the UK government laboratory in Porton Down on the Skripal case.
Her remarks came as Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, said that they had not been able to prove that the nerve agent allegedly used in the Skripal poisoning was Russian in origin.
May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats as a punitive measure, in a move that was followed by similar decisions in the US, Canada and Ukraine, as well as about 20 European countries, which expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats.
Moscow responded in kind, also expelling Western diplomats and ordering the British Council to stop its activities in Russia. Moscow vehemently denies all the accusations over the Skripal case, calling for a joint investigation into the poisoning.
* a nerve agent commonly known as A-234
This article has been updated to better reflect the position of the UK side on the versions of Skripals' visit to the restaurant.