Putin: Skripal poisoning suspects 'civilians, not criminals'

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Putin: Skripal poisoning suspects 'civilians, not criminals'

The U.K. last week identified two men it said were Russian military-intelligence officers who carried out the attack on Sergei Skripal, a former spy, and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury in March. "They are just ordinary civilians", Putin told a session at an economic forum in Vladivostok, The Washington Post reported.

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

Russian Federation has repeatedly contested the allegations and on Wednesday Putin escalated the war of words by denying the men were members of military intelligence.

State TV channel Rossiya-24 claimed it had spoken to Alexander Petrov, who, along with Ruslan Boshirov, has been named by United Kingdom prosecutors as a prime suspect in the nerve agent attack.

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" authorized by the higher echelons of the Russian government. Rowley spent weeks in the hospital before being discharged.

Together with Boshirov, Petrov is accused of being an agent of the GRU (Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye) agency, which is the main military foreign intelligence service of Russian Federation.

'I hope they will turn up themselves and tell everything.

BBC Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford called Mr Putin's words a "tantalising hint" that the two men will speak "very soon".

He added: "I believe in the British justice system and if they are innocent they will be acquitted, so yes I have every faith and so I would urge him to hand those individuals over for a trial".

British prosecutors issued a warrant for the suspects' arrest last week. Four months later Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill in the Wiltshire city after finding a perfume bottle containing novichok. They also claim that the noxious agent was in a bottle that had been altered to make it "perfect cover for smuggling the weapon into the country and a flawless delivery method for the attack against the Skripal's front door".

"For now we are working on a number of measures to push back Russia's activities and do our best to degrade their intelligence services".

If they do so, it would not be the first time accused Russian assassins have answered global allegations through the Russian media.

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