The daughter of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal is expected to be granted political asylum to live in Britain, The Mail on Sunday has learned.
High-level discussions about 33-year-old Yulia Skripal’s future were held last week ahead of her imminent discharge from hospital.
With Britain’s war of words with Russia growing increasingly rancorous, there are now concerns for Yulia’s safety should she return home.
A new life in Britain would see Yulia and her father given new identities and secretly resettled. The 66-year-old spy’s condition is also improving following last month’s nerve agent attack.
Salisbury MP and Treasury Minister John Glen said: ‘Given her appalling treatment at the hands of the Russian state, I would warmly welcome the offer of asylum to Yulia Skripal.’
Sources have also revealed Mr Skripal’s £400,000 house in Salisbury may be demolished to completely expunge traces of the Russian-made Novichok nerve agent.
Sergei Skripal, a Soviet-era military intelligence officer, was branded a traitor in Russia and jailed in 2006 for selling state secrets to MI6.
He came to Britain in 2010 after a deal was struck to release him in a spy swap which also saw Western powers send Russian spies to Moscow.
Britain has blamed the assassination attempt on Russia – which denies involvement – opening a diplomatic war of words that has seen tit-for-tat consular expulsions and volatile exchanges. Yulia has not responded to requests from Russia to send consular staff to visit her in hospital.
She also told her cousin last week that she did not want her to travel from Russia to see her.
If she remains in the UK, Yulia would leave behind her mysterious fiance – named for the first time yesterday as Stepan Vikeev, 30 – who has ‘gone into hiding’ and had no contact with her or her family after the attack on March 4.
She would also have to say goodbye to her beloved dog Noir.
Yulia owns a flat in Moscow and a Ford Kuga car but she has no other immediate family left in Russia.
Her brother Alexandr and mother Liudmila died from health problems in recent years.
Last week Yulia called her cousin Viktoria Skripal, who was trying to secure a visa to travel from Russia to visit her relatives in hospital.
UK officials assured her that they would fast track her application.
But she was turned down on Friday amid fears she was being used as a pawn by Russia.
During the recorded telephone conversation, Viktoria said: ‘If I am given a visa I need you to say “Yes” when you are asked if you wish to see me.’
But Yulia responded: ‘I think no, here the situation is now… we’ll deal with it later.’
Last night, Viktoria told The Mail on Sunday : ‘I fear Yulia will now be pushed to disown us and get political asylum – and we will never be able to see her and Sergei again.’
The Foreign Office reacted angrily yesterday to a request from the Russian embassy for a meeting with Boris Johnson to discuss the poisonings.
In a statement on its website yesterday, the Russian embassy said ‘interaction’ between it and the Foreign Office had been ‘utterly unsatisfactory’.
But the Foreign Office said: ‘It’s Russia’s response that has been unsatisfactory.
‘It’s over three weeks since we asked Russia to engage constructively and answer a number of questions relating to the attempted assassinations of Mr Skripal and his daughter.
‘Now, after failing in their attempts in the UN and international chemical weapons watchdog this week and with the victims’ condition improving, they seem to be pursuing a different diversionary tactic’.
A source close to Mr Johnson added that the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had turned down the chance for discussions.
The source said: ‘This is just the latest in a series of Russian disinformation attempts.
‘This includes the Russian Government and state-owned media inventing 29 separate theories about the Salisbury poisonings.’
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