Putin Claims Poisoning Suspects Are Russian Civilians

Putin says Russia has found men accused by UK over poisoning

Putin says suspects in Novichok poisoning are ‘civilians’

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia-President Vladimir Putin said he knows the identities of the two Russians accused by the United Kingdom of poisoning a former Russian spy in England, urging them to come forward and tell their story.

"They are just ordinary civilians", Putin told a session at an economic forum in Vladivostok broadcast on state TV.

"We know who they are, we have found them", Putin said.

'I hope that they will emerge (in public) themselves and tell about themselves.

British prosecutors charged two Russian nationals, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, last week for allegedly poisoning former spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military-grade nerve agent in the city of Salisbury in March.

The Russian president said they are "civilians" with no links to the government. "There is nothing particularly criminal there, I assure you", he said.

Russian Federation has consistently denied any role in either incident.

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They accused the pair of smuggling the Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok into Britain in a fake perfume flask and smearing some of the substance on the front door of Sergei Skripal's home in the English city of Salisbury, where the former GRU officer settled after being sent to the West in a Cold War-style spy swap in 2010.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the president has not communicated with the men themselves since they were accused of poisoning the Skripals.

The elder Skripal, who was a Russian intelligence agent that switched sides, as well as his daughter, survived the poisoning and now live in an undisclosed location.

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.

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.

Russian Federation has said the names of the suspects - as indicated in their passports - given to them by British prosecutors were meaningless.

Putin also said that if the poison used were really a chemical warfare agent, death would have been instantaneous. "The government has exposed the role of the GRU, its operatives and its methods, this position is supported by our global allies", the spokesman told reporters.

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