Skripal relative denies contact with security services

Moscow (AFP) - Viktoria Skripal, a relative of poisoned ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, denied having links to security services in an interview to Russian media on Tuesday.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found slumped on a bench in the English city of Salisbury last month, sparking a bitter diplomatic crisis between Moscow and London, who say a nerve agent developed in Russia was used on the pair.

"What security services? I have not been in touch with anyone from the security services," Viktoria told liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy.

"The only thing I did was to go to the Investigative Committee to confirm that Yulia had flown (to Britain)," she said.

Earlier this month Russian state television aired an audio recording said to capture a phone conversation between Viktoria and Yulia Skripal that aroused suspicion of Viktoria's links to Russian authorities.

Viktoria Skripal, who was recently denied entry to Britain, said she plans to contact the UN if UK authorities repeatedly refuse to issue her a visa to the country.

"I will write to the UN," she said.

The Russian embassy in London called the decision to deny Viktoria Skripal entry to the UK "disappointing" and "politically motivated."

After being discharged from hospital on April 10 more than a month after she was poisoned, Yulia Skripal issued a statement through British police in which she distanced herself from her cousin and refused Russian consular assistance.

"I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being," the statement added.

"Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father's," the statement said.

But Viktoria Skripal said Tuesday she did not consider the statement published by British police to be genuine.

"Do you think I should see a statement written in formal language and believe it? No. It was not even a video address. Why should I believe it?" she told Ekho Moskvy, adding she believes British authorities are purposefully not showing images of her relatives.

Viktoria Skripal added that her uncle was not barred from entering Russia but feared doing so.

"He was not stripped of his Russian citizenship. He said 'I will not fly to Russia, they won't even let me off the plane'," she said.

Yulia Skripal is kept in a secret location following leaving hospital. She was visiting her father when the March 4 nerve agent attack on her and her father took place in the English town of Salisbury.

Sergei Skripal, 66, remains in hospital, though he is improving rapidly and no longer in a critical condition, doctors said in their last update on April 6.