Ex Russian spy's niece begs him to call mother

Yulia Skripal was poisoned in Salisbury along with her father, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal's niece on Thursday begged her uncle, who was poisoned in Britain, to call his 90-year-old mother to prove he was alive.

Speaking at an emotional news conference in Russia, Victoria Skripal said she was in touch with Skripal's daughter Yulia, but that the family had not heard from him for more than half a year.

Skripal's 90-year-old mother needed to hear from the former agent, she said.

"She is waiting for his phone call. She needs nothing else. She needs one phone call from her son," Victoria said, adding that Skripal used to call his mother every two weeks.

She also pleaded with Yulia to send the family a picture of her 67-year old father.

"Show us that he is alive," Victoria said.

She confirmed direct contacts with Yulia, suggesting she was still in Britain because their phone calls came from a British number.

"Now she uses this number all the time," said Victoria, though the number could not be called back.

She said Yulia told her that she felt fine, was "recovering" and went jogging in the morning.

Yulia planned to return to Russia once her father gets better, Victoria added.

She added that ahead of the World Cup in Russia two months ago, Yulia had met with a friend from there who brought her buckwheat, a local staple.

"They met but not where she lives, just in London," Victoria said.

On Wednesday, Britain accused two Russian military intelligence agents of using Novichok, a Soviet-designed nerve agent, to poison Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

British officials said the Russian state and "ultimately" President Vladimir Putin was responsible for the March attack.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal are under the British government's protection.

Victoria said she did not know the suspects, and thanked Russian authorities and Putin personally for helping her.

"I have only seen help from the Russian state," she said.

In May, Yulia released a video statement that asked media and others to respect her family's privacy.