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Yulia Skripal says her ‘strength is growing daily’

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Yulia Skripal has said her “strength is growing daily” in her first statement since she and her father were poisoned in Salisbury last month.

In the statement issued by the Metropolitan Police on behalf of the 33-year-old, Ms Skripal revealed she “woke up over a week ago” after being exposed to a nerve agent in the Wiltshire city.

She said: “I am grateful for the interest in me and for the many messages of goodwill that I have received.

“I have many people to thank for my recovery and would especially like to mention the people of Salisbury that came to my aid when my father and I were incapacitated.

“Further than that, I would like to thank the staff at Salisbury District Hospital for their care and professionalism.

“I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”

In the statement, Ms Skripal made no mention of the condition of her father Sergei.

The forensic tent covering a bench in the Maltings shopping centre  is blown over by the wind
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The Skripals were found collapsed on a bench on 4 March

The Skripals have been treated at Salisbury District Hospital since being found collapsed on a public bench on 4 March.

The UK Government blames Russia for the use of military-grade novichok in the attempted murder of ex-Russian spy Mr Skripal and his daughter. Moscow has denied the accusations.

The Russian Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, told journalists on Thursday he was “really happy” about the news of Ms Skripal’s condition and expressed hope her father would also recover.

He added he was “quite sure” Ms Skripal would return to her job and apartment in Moscow, but it would be the “choice” of Mr Skripal whether or not he returns to Russia.

The 66-year-old was sentenced to 13 years in a Russian jail in 2006 after being accused of acting as a double agent for Britain.

Sergei Skripal was imprisoned in 2010 after being found guilty of selling secrets to British intelligence
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There has been no word on Sergei Skripal’s recent condition

The former intelligence officer was part of a spy swap with the US in 2010, after which he flew to the UK and settled in Salisbury.

“From the point of the Russian state, Russia has no problems with him,” Mr Yakovenko said.

“Because, you know, he was sentenced, he spent several years in a prison and then he’s like any other citizens, he’s clear, that’s it.

“So, for us, they [the Skripals] are just Russian citizens.”

The Foreign Office revealed Ms Skripal has so far rejected the Russian embassy’s offer of consular help.

Russia's Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko
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Alexander Yakovenko said he is ‘really happy’ about Ms Skripal’s improvement

A spokesperson said: “We are pleased that Yulia’s condition has improved and pay tribute to the medical staff who have been treating her and Mr Skripal since they were attacked.

“We have conveyed to Ms Skripal the Russian embassy’s offer of consular assistance.

“Ms Skripal is now able to choose if and when to take up this offer, but to date she has not done so.”

Ms Skripal’s statement came after Russian state TV aired what it said was a phone conversation between Ms Skripal and her cousin Viktoria Skripal, which it said it obtained from the latter.

Ms Skripal was quoted as having told the cousin: “Everything is fine, everything is fixable, everyone is getting better.”

Asked about her father, Ms Skripal was said to have added: “Everything is fine, he is resting, sleeping. Everyone’s health is fine.”

Ms Skripal was also reported to have claimed she would soon be discharging herself from hospital.


VR reconstruction of Skripal final movements



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VR reconstruction of Russia spy’s movements

On Thursday evening, a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York will discuss the Salisbury poisoning amid a deepening diplomatic rift between Moscow and London.

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Afghanistan: Youngsters protest online against order telling girls not to go to school | World News

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Afghan girls and boys have joined a social media protest against a decision by the Taliban to prevent young females going to school.

Putting their own safety at risk, many have created makeshift banners to make their points, opposing an edict by the Taliban government that female middle and high school students should not return to school for the time being, while boys of the same age can resume their studies this weekend.

It comes as the interim mayor of Kabul is telling female city authority employees to stay home, with only those whose jobs cannot be done by men allowed to work.

Banner reads: "What is our crime that we are prevented from education?"
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Banner reads: ‘What is our crime that we are prevented from education?’

The moves are further evidence the Taliban, which overran Kabul last month, is enforcing its harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises that it would be tolerant and inclusive.

Among the slogans on the banners displayed by the youngsters are statements like: “What is our crime that we are prevented from education?” and “I won’t go to school without my sister. I support my sister. We are equal.”

Sky News has blurred the faces of some of those protesting, as there are fears they could be at risk in a country that appears to be clamping down on the right of expression.

Banner reads: "You took our holy land, so don't take our education from us"
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Banner reads: ‘You took our holy land, so don’t take our education from us’

On Sunday, just over a dozen women staged a protest outside the new ministry, holding up placards calling for the right of women to participate in public life.

The protest lasted for about 10 minutes before a short verbal confrontation occurred with a man and the women got into cars and left, as members of the Taliban watched from nearby cars.

Kabul’s new interim mayor, Hamdullah Namony, told his first news conference that, pending a further decision, most of the 1,000 or so female city authority employees would be required to stay home.

He said exceptions would only be made for women who could not be replaced by men, including some in the design and engineering departments and the attendants of public toilets for women.

The Taliban flags are seen on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan
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The mayor of Kabul has told many female employees of the city authorities to stay home

Mr Namony added: “There are some areas that men can’t do it, we have to ask our female staff to fulfil their duties, there is no alternative for it.”

During its previous rule between the mid 1990s and 2001, the Taliban had forbidden girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.

In recent days, Taliban officials told female university students that classes would take place in gender-segregated settings, and they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code.

Banner reads: "We won't go to schools, until our sisters are allowed to go to school"
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Banner reads: ‘We won’t go to schools, until our sisters are allowed to go to school’

Under the previous US-backed administration, before it was deposed by the Taliban in August, men and women had sat alongside each other in universities, for the most part.

On Friday, the Taliban shut down the ministry for women’s affairs, replacing it with a government department responsible for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice”, with the job of enforcing Islamic law.

Amid deteriorating conditions for ordinary Afghans, many of whom previously relied on international aid, witnesses said an explosion targeted a Taliban vehicle in the provincial city of Jalalabad, the second such deadly blast in as many days in an area where Islamic State militants are said to dominate.

Banner reads: "I don’t go to school without my sister. I support my sister. #We are equal"
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Banner reads: ‘I don’t go to school without my sister. I support my sister. #We are equal’

The Taliban and IS extremists are enemies and battled each other before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month.

Initial reports said five people were killed, with a child among the two civilians said to have died. The Taliban were not immediately available for comment.

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Boris Johnson tells world leaders he is growing ‘increasingly frustrated’ at their efforts to tackle climate change | Politics News

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Boris Johnson has criticised other world leaders over their efforts to tackle climate change, telling them he is growing “increasingly frustrated” that their commitments are “nowhere near enough”.

Speaking during a meeting at the United Nations in New York, the prime minister said the gap between what has been promised by industrialised nations and what they have so far delivered remains “vast”.

Co-hosting a discussion on the issue at the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson urged fellow leaders to renew their efforts to meet a key financing pledge to help developing nations.

The PM wants to get countries to commit to giving $100bn (£73bn) a year in support to developing nations to cut their carbon emissions and shield themselves against climate change.

But he earlier told reporters there was only a “six out of 10” chance of this target being met before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November – which he then said will be “a turning point for the world” and “the moment when we have to grow up and take our responsibilities”.

He told Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby: “We have been here before, we have all heard lots of positive noises, let’s see where we get to.

“We are not counting our chickens.”

However, Joe Biden’s climate envoy sounded upbeat when questioned by Sky News.

“I think we’re going to get it done by COP and the US will do its part,” John Kerry said.

Asked if the US president will announce more money this week, he replied: “I’m not hoping… I’m telling you to stay tuned into the president’s speech and we’ll see where we are.”

Chairing the climate discussion on Monday, Mr Johnson noted that “everyone nods and we all agree that something must be done”.

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Kerry ‘confident’ of $100bn climate target

“Yet I confess I’m increasingly frustrated that the ‘something’ to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough,” he continued.

“It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences.

“And while progress is being made all over the world, the gulf between what has been promised, what is actually being delivered, and what needs to happen… it remains vast.

“Too many major economies – some represented here today, some absent – are lagging too far behind.”

And the PM warned countries there would be consequences if the financing target is not met, saying: “If you say that the lives of their children are not worth the hassle of reducing domestic coal consumption, will they vote with you in fora such as this?

“Will they work with you, borrow from you, stand with you if you tell the world that you don’t care whether their land and their people slip below the waves?

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“To be merely a bystander is to be complicit in their fate – yet that is exactly what you will be if you fail to act this year.”

Ahead of the UN meeting, Downing Street said developed countries had “collectively failed” to meet the target.

Figures released last week by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that $79.6bn was mobilised in 2019, more than $20bn off the target.

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 6.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.

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Serbians block roads in Kosovo in protest over license plate restrictions | World News

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Protesters have blocked roads in northern Kosovo after authorities stopped cars with Serbian plates from entering the country.

Police in Jarinje, Kosovo are forcing drivers from Serbia to remove or hide license plates and use temporary registration details that are valid for 60 days and cost €5 (£4.30).

Serbia, which lost control of Kosovo in 1999, does not recognise Kosovo and has stopped cars with Kosovo license plates from entering the country.

Kosovo's special force deployed armoured vehicles as hundreds blocked the roads in Jarinje, Kosovo
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Kosovo’s special force deployed armoured vehicles as hundreds blocked the roads in Jarinje, Kosovo

Almost 50,000 Serbs who live in the north of Kosovo and share a border with Serbia, refuse to recognise Pristina’s authorities and as restrictions came into force on Monday, cars and trucks blocked roads in protest.

Police in Kosovo deployed riot gear and armoured vehicles as the blockades built up and Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, said the move was not taken to harm drivers but was a retaliation measure against Belgrade.

“Today there is nothing illegal or discriminatory,” Mr Kurti said in parliament.

“Just as yesterday, today and tomorrow, Serb citizens will move freely and safely.”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the situation is very “serious and difficult”.

“When you are dealing with people who are not responsible, it is difficult to find a solution,” Mr Vucic said.

Drivers waved a Serbian flag as they protested against the government ban on entry of vehicles with Serbian license plates
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Drivers waved a Serbian flag as they protested against the government ban on entry of vehicles with Serbian license plates

The two countries began talks in 2013, mediated by the European Union, to resolve the issues, but little progress has been made.

Kosovo is recognised by around 110 countries, including the United States, Britain and most western countries, but Russia, Serbia’s traditional ally, does not recognise it.

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