Thu, Sep 13, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Skripal poisoning suspects are civilians, Putin claims

NOTHING CRIMINAL?The Russian president told those attending an economic forum that the two suspects had been found — that there was nothing criminal about them

Reuters, VLADIVOSTOK, Russia

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are pictured in a handout provided by the Metropolitan Police in London, England, on Sept. 5.

Photo: Reuters/Metroplitan Police

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday said Moscow knew the real identity of two men accused by British prosecutors of trying to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Britain.

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians who they said were operating under aliases — Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — who they said had tried to murder the Skripals with a military-grade nerve agent in England.

Putin, speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, said that Russia had found the two men, that they were civilians and that there was nothing special or criminal about them.

He said he hoped that they would come forward and tell the world their version of the story.

“We of course checked who these people are. We know who they are — we found them. Well, I hope they will come out themselves and speak about themselves. It will be better for everyone,” he said.

“There’s nothing particularly even criminal about it, I assure you. We’ll see soon,” he added. “They are civilians of course. I would like to appeal to them so that they hear us today. They will come somewhere, to you, the mass media.”

Britain has said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence officers almost certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incidents.

Skripal — a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service — and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in Salisbury in March.

They spent weeks in the hospital before being discharged.

A woman near Salisbury, Dawn Sturgess, died in July and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing the nerve agent Novichok and brought it home.

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