Russia President says two Skripal poisoning suspects are 'civilians'


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

"We, of course, looked at what kind of people they are, and we know who they are, we found them", Putin told an audience at the Eastern Economic Forum in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

Putin said that his government had found the pair and he hoped they would appear soon and tell their story. "It will be better for everyone".

He added: "There is nothing special and nothing criminal about it, I'm telling you".

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement and some Russian officials have suggested the British security services carried out that attack to stoke anti-Moscow hysteria.

He said the government had exposed them as GRU operatives - and that is what they are.

Since the United Kingdom named the two suspects, US, France, Germany and Canada have agreed that the Russian government "almost certainly" approved the poisoning of the Skripals and have urged Russia to provide full disclosure of its Novichok programme.

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

The prime minister's official spokesman said the government had "repeatedly asked Russian Federation to account for what happened in Salisbury" but that Moscow "had replied with obfuscation and lies".

Prosecutors deem it futile to apply to Russian Federation for the extradition of the two men but a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained and the authorities are also seeking the assistance of Interpol.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey also fell unwell after responding to the incident in the metropolis of Salisbury.

The Skripals' poisoning by the deadly nerve agent Novichok triggered a tense diplomatic showdown. "Hours after their final visit to Salisbury, they took a late-night flight back to Moscow on March 4 - the same day the Skripals were sickened". They believe the men went on to spread the Novichok nerve agent on the house's door handle, although this moment was not captured on CCTV. Sturgess died in hospital on July 8.

Putin and Russian Federation have vehemently denied having anything to do with the poisoning cases.