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No Legislative Seat For Poisoned Spy Skripal's Niece In Russian Regional Vote

Viktoria Skripal (file photo)

Viktoria Skripal, a close relative of the father and daughter who were poisoned with a Soviet-designed nerve agent in England, has failed to win a seat in a Russian regional legislature.

Skripal, a niece of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and cousin of Yulia Skripal, ran for a seat in the regional Duma in the Yaroslavl Oblast, northeast of Moscow, in elections held on September 9.

The 46-year-old accountant ran on the ticket of the A Just Russia party, which backs almost all Kremlin initiatives and supports President Vladimir Putin but is a rival of the ruling United Russia party.

The party came in fourth and won three seats in the regional legislature, falling short in Skripal's district, state-run news agency TASS quoted regional election commission chief Oleg Zakharov as saying on September 10.

Viktoria Skripal gained a measure of prominence when she gave Russian state television what she said was a recording of a brief phone call with Yulia Skripal, 34, in early April.

In subsequent comments to The New York Times, she indicated she did not believe Russia was behind the attack, saying that Moscow "gains nothing from this politically."

Sergei Skripal, a former double agent who was convicted of spying and imprisoned in Russia before being released and sent West in a 2010 spy swap, was found unconscious on a bench in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

They were both in critical condition and spent several weeks in the hospital but were later released, with British officials saying they are making a good recovery. Their whereabouts are being kept secret.

British officials say they were poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade chemical weapon that was developed in the Soviet Union, and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin's government for the attack.

Russia denies involvement, and a diplomatic confrontation over the case has led to sanctions and the expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats from two dozen Western countries.

The poisoning has further damaged already severely strained relations between Russia and the West, and has been a cause for solidarity at a time when Western officials say Moscow is seeking to cause rifts in relations between Western countries.

When she declared her candidacy in May, Viktoria Skripal told German news agency dpa that she adamantly opposes the Kremlin's plans to raise the pension age -- an issue that was the subject of street protests on election day.

She also said she wanted to improve schools and resolve environmental issues such as pollution in the Volga River, which runs through the region where she has lived for more than 30 years.

With reporting by TASS and dpa
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