Vladimir Putin: 'nothing criminal' about novichok suspects

Erika Holt
September 13, 2018

Vladimir Putin has said that Russian Federation has identified the men accused of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack - but insists there is "nothing criminal" about them.

The president, speaking at an economic forum in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, claims the men haven't done anything wrong and he hopes they will appear before the media to tell the world their side of the story. "We know who they are. I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves".

United Kingdom authorities have named the men as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, thought to be officers of Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU.

"They are civilians, of course", Putin said, contradicting the British government's assertion that they are officers of Russia's military intelligence agency, known as the GRU.

Britain has blamed the Russian government of being involved in the attacks, though Moscow has strongly denied it.

British police said the suspects, both about 40-years old, flew from Moscow to London on Russian passports two days before the Skripals were poisoned. "There is nothing particularly criminal there, I assure you", he said.

Putin and Russian Federation have vehemently denied having anything to do with the poisoning.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov (who have to be the two Russians with the most Russian names ever) were accused of the Sergei Skripal assassination attempt.

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Yulia and Sergei were discovered slumped on a bench in a critical condition - with the nerve agent also poisoning courageous policemen Sgt Nick Bailey, and later residents Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess.

Detectives believe the front door of Mr Skripal's Salisbury home was contaminated with Novichok.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital on 8 July.

An Interpol Red Notice and European arrest warrant have been issued, though the Russian Constitution forbids them from being extradited.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the president has not communicated with the men themselves since they were accused of poisoning the Skripals.

Putin also said that if the poison used were really a chemical warfare agent, death would have been instantaneous.

Russian Federation retaliated by kicking out a similar number of those countries' envoys. "The government has exposed the role of the GRU, its operatives and its methods, this position is supported by our global allies", the spokesman told reporters.

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