The Latest: Russian TV releases call with ex-spy's niece

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The Latest: Russian TV releases call with ex-spy's niece
Russian ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko speaks about the recent Salisbury incident, during a news conference at the Russian Embassy in London, Thursday April 5, 2018. Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and his daughter (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Russian state television has released a recording of what it says is a phone call between the daughter of an ex-spy poisoned in Britain and her cousin in Russia.

In it, Yulia Skripal says she and her father, former double agent Sergei Skripal, are both recovering and in normal health. She says her father is sleeping and his health has not been irreparably damaged.

Rossiya TV says Skripal’s niece, Viktoria, who lives in Moscow, provided it with the recording of her conversation with Yulia. The broadcaster says it can’t verify the recording’s authenticity.

Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 nerve agent attack that sickened the Skripals. The British hospital treating them said Yulia’s condition has improved, while her father has remained in critical condition. Russia has vehemently denied involvement in the poisoning.

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11 a.m.

Russia’s top diplomat has dismissed the recent expulsions of Russian diplomats as a mockery of international law.

Two dozen countries have kicked out a total of more than 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with Britain, which blames Russia for last month’s poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal was “staged” to justify the expulsions from many countries “whose arms were twisted.”

The international chemical weapons watchdog on Wednesday rejected Russia’s calls for a joint investigation with Britain. Russia said the number of countries that abstained from the vote suggested many have doubts about Britain’s allegations that Moscow was behind the attack.