- The UK accused two men of attempting to assassinate a former Russian agent in England with military-grade nerve agent.
- Vladimir Putin said he knows who and where they are, but that there was “nothing criminal” about their actions.
- He added that he hoped the two men would “turn up themselves and tell everything.”
- Britain also accused the two men of being officers from Russia’s intelligence service. Putin said they were civilians.
- Russian state TV reportedly said that one of the two suspects might comment on the case next week.
- The attack on Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy, also poisoned another British man and killed a British woman.
Vladimir Putin said that his government has located the two Russian men the UK accused of poisoning a former Russian spy in England, and that he hoped they would “turn up themselves and tell everything.”
British authorities last week charged two Russian men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with attempted murder over the botched poisoning earlier this year, which used the military-grade nerve agent novichok.
Prime Minister Theresa May said Petrov and Boshirov are officers from Russia’s intelligence service, also known as the GRU, whose attack was “almost certainly” authorised by the higher echelons of the Russian government.
Putin said on Wednesday morning there was “nothing criminal” about Petrov and Boshirov. He appeared to be implying that they were not the people who carried out the poisoning.
He added that the two men were civilians, according the state-run Ria Novosti news agency and Russian Embassy in London. Earlier this month the Kremlin said the suspects’ names and photographs “mean nothing to us.”
The Russian president told a conference in Vladivostok, as cited by the BBC:
“We know who they are, we have found them.
“I hope they will turn up themselves and tell everything. This would be best for everyone.
“There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you. We’ll see in the near future.”
Hours after Putin’s remarks, Russian state TV reportedly claimed that Petrov, one of the suspects, could speak out about the case next week.
Petrov told Rossiya-24, as cited by Sky News: “No comment for the moment. Maybe later. Next week, I think.”
Watch Putin’s remark on the Skripal case around the 0:49 mark in the video below:
The attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, southern England, also claimed two other victims: Dawn Sturgess, who died from the poisoning, and Charlie Rowley, who recovered.
Rowley in July unwittingly picked up a fake perfume bottle, which the perpetrators filled with nerve agent intended to poison Skripal and made to look like it was from a designer brand.
Thinking it was expensive perfume, Rowley then gave it to his girlfriend, Sturgess, who applied the poison to her wrists and died. Rowley also fell ill but survived because of his lesser exposure.
Britain believes that Petrov and Boshirov – which may not be the two men’s real names – are currently in Russia.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service said it is not applying to Russia for the two men’s extradition, because Russia does not extradite its own nationals, according to the BBC.
Britain’s diplomatic relationship with Russia suffered after London accused Moscow of being behind the Skripals’ poisoning this March. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied knowing about the attack.
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