Putin says two Skripal poisoning suspects 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.

Putin urged the men to address the media and said there was "nothing criminal" about them, as he spoke at an economic forum in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

The Russian president said they are "civilians" with no links to the government.

Putin said Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov may soon make appearances in the media to protest their innocence.

He said his officials "know who these people are".

"There is nothing special or criminal about it, I can assure you". "We'll see in the near future".

Javid described the GRU as a "very well-disciplined organization" that would "only act with orders from the highest level of the Russian government".

British authorities have issued European arrest warrants for Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two suspected members of Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU.

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".

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They did a reconnaissance mission to Salisbury the following day before returning with poison concealed in a fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle.

He accused Britain of attempting "to unleash a disgusting anti-Russian hysteria".

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the poisoning, casting it as part of a Western plot to smear Russian Federation to justify more sanctions against it.

The duo had entered Britain on genuine passports, prosecutors said, while British Prime Minister Theresa May described them as military intelligence officers nearly certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.

The Russian president noted that the "suspects" were civilians.

The attack on Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy, also poisoned another British man and killed a British woman.

Officers have formally linked the attack on the Skripals to events in nearby Amesbury when Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the same nerve agent.

Mr Rowley is seriously ill and was readmitted to hospital earlier this month after going blind.