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Poisoned Russian spy Skripal 'improving rapidly,' hospital says

[LONDON] Sergei Skripal, the former Russian double agent poisoned a month ago in southern England, is "improving rapidly," according to the hospital treating him.

"He is responding well to treatment, improving rapidly and is no longer in a critical condition," Christine Blanshard, medical director at Salisbury District Hospital, said Friday in a statement. It comes eight days after the hospital said the condition of Skripal's daughter, Yulia, was no longer critical.

UK authorities have blamed Russia for the March 4 attack on the Skripals, after identifying the substance used as Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. That led to the coordinated expulsions of more than 150 Russian diplomats by British allies including the US, Canada, Australia and European nations. Russia, for its part, has demanded proof and involvement in any investigation.

But the UK was forced onto the back foot this week when government scientists said they couldn't identify Russia as the source of the nerve agent. That contradicted earlier statements by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, leading Russia to accuse the UK of spinning "fairy tales." Prime Minister Theresa May's government maintains that its conclusion that Russia is responsible stems from analyzing intelligence alongside the laboratory's findings.

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