Ex-Russian spy no longer in critical condition after UK poisoning

Ex-Russian spy no longer in critical condition after UK poisoning
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Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy poisoned on British soil last month, is no longer in critical condition and improving rapidly, a British health official said Friday.

Dr. Christine Blanshard, the medical director at Salisbury District Hospital, said in a statement that Skripal, 66, is "responding well to treatment."

Skripal, a Russian-born British citizen, and his daughter, Yulia, were found slumped over on a park bench on March 4, after having been poisoned with what officials have said was a military-grade nerve agent.

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They were hospitalized in critical condition. Doctors revealed last week that Yulia Skripal, 33, had awoken from a coma and was rapidly improving. She said in a statement issued earlier this week that her "strength is growing daily."

The poisoning of the Skripals ignited an intense diplomatic dispute between Moscow and the West, underscoring long-simmering tensions. 

More than two dozen countries responded to the poisonings by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats. Those expulsions prompted Russia to do the same.

Moscow has denied any role in the attack on the Skripals and has accused the U.S. of orchestrating a "colossal blackmail" campaign. 

Russia proposed launching a joint investigation into the poisonings with United Kingdom this week, but that move was rejected on Wednesday by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international chemical weapons watchdog.

At the same time, Moscow called an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, where Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzia accused London of fabricating the account of the Skripal's poisoning and working to "discredit and even delegitimize" Russia.