Putin: Skripal poisoning suspects ‘civilians, not criminals’

Putin: Skripal poisoning suspects ‘civilians, not criminals’

The two men identified by British investigators as suspects in the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March are civilians and not members of the Russia’s military intelligence service, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The UK Government last week named the suspects as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and claimed they were from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which the Kremlin has dismissed as lies and provocation.

Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok, President Putin said the suspects had been identified and found and urged them to put forward their side of the story.

“We know who they are, we have found them,” Mr Putin said. “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.”

Scotland Yard and¬†the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) say they have enough evidence to charge the suspects, who are¬†understood to have travelled to London from Moscow on 2 March on Russian passports.

On 4 March, authorities allege they sprayed a Novichok series nerve agent on the front door of Mr Skripal’s home in the southern English city of Salisbury, before returning to Russia later that day.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has warned the men they will be caught and prosecuted if they ever step out of Russia.

The CPS is not applying to Russia for the extradition of the two men because the country’s constitution prevents its own nationals being extradited.

However, a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained in case they travel to the EU.

It is unclear whether that will remain in place when the UK leaves the European Union.

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