Russia President says two Skripal poisoning suspects are 'civilians'

Elias Hubbard
September 15, 2018

"I knew from day one that this story about the involvement of Petrov and Boshirov was fake", she said.

"I hope they will turn up themselves and tell about themselves", he said in comments that hinted they will make a public statement shortly.

Authorities believe the pair smeared the highly toxic chemical Novichok on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal, leaving he and his daughter Yulia critically ill in March.

Detectives believe it is likely the two Salisbury suspects, thought to be aged around 40, travelled under aliases and that Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names. Putin called on the two men to contact the media and "tell about themselves".

Britain blamed the Russian government for the attack, an allegation that Moscow has vehemently denied.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the use of a chemical weapon in the city of Salisbury, which left a British woman dead and four people, including Skripal and his daughter, seriously ill, was carried out by officers of the GRU intelligence service and nearly certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state".

Putin on Wednesday did not try to dispute the British evidence, but he insisted the men were innocent.

There's nothing special and criminal about it, I assure you.

The CPS is not applying to Russian Federation for the extradition of the two men, as Russian Federation does not extradite its own nationals.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey also fell unwell after responding to the incident in the metropolis of Salisbury.

The motive for attacking Skripal, who was exchanged in a Kremlin-approved spy swap in 2010, is still unclear, as is the motive for using an exotic nerve agent, Novichok, which has such clear links to Russia´s Soviet past. He was later discharged from hospital, as were the Skripals.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the poisoning, casting it as part of a Western plot to smear Russian Federation to justify more sanctions against it. "The government has exposed the role of the GRU, its operatives and its methods, this position is supported by our worldwide allies", the spokesman told reporters.

Britain's allies have backed it over the case, with the United States and other European countries expelling hundreds of Russian diplomats suspected of being spies.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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