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Putin: 2 Men Suspected by United Kingdom for Spy Poisoning Not Criminals
14 September 2018, 04:36 | Devin Moran
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government has identified the two men whom United Kingdom police recently accused of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal. "We know who they are already, we've found them", the president said, according to The Moscow Times. "I hope they will appear on their own to talk about themselves, that will be better for everyone". "There's nothing unusual or criminal there, I assure you". We'll see soon. They are civilians of course.
The Russian president's intervention risks widening the gulf between Russia and the United Kingdom over the attempted assassination, which triggered a wave of diplomatic expulsions by both sides.
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. He was later discharged from hospital, as were the Skripals.
The same exotic poison was also blamed for the death of Dawn Sturgess, 44, who seems to have come into contact with Novichok in July.
Moscow has vehemently denied it is responsible for the poisoning.
Authorities believe the men smeared the highly toxic chemical on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of Mr Skripal, leaving he and his daughter Yulia critically ill.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later told reporters that Putin never met the suspects in the poisoning and that Russian Federation did not investigate them but merely "checked the reports".
The attack in Salisbury prompted an worldwide row, with more than 20 countries expelling Russian envoys in solidarity with the United Kingdom, including the U.S., while Moscow expelled diplomats in response.
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on September 9 that Britain will catch the two men and bring them to prosecution if they ever step out of Russian Federation.
British prosecutors issued European arrest warrants last week for Petrov and Boshirov, charging them with conspiracy to murder.
The case has strong echoes of the poisoning of ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in Britain in 2006.
Britain's security minister, Ben Wallace, said on September 6 that Putin "ultimately" bears responsibility for the poisoning because "it is his government that controls, funds, and directs the military intelligence".
Britain said Russians Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun were behind what it said was a likely Kremlin-backed killing, but the pair have never been tried and Lugovoi has since become a lawmaker in Russia.
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