Putin: 'Nothing criminal' about men accused of poisoning ex-spy

Thursday, 13 Sep, 2018

"We know who these people are, we have found them", Putin said at a panel at an economic conference in Vladivostok, according to AP.

"We know who they are, we have found them", Putin said during an event with Japan's Shinzo Abe and China's Xi Jinping. "I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves".

Britain last week charged two alleged agents of Russia's military intelligence agency in absentia with the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence officers nearly certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.

Moscow continues to deny everything, claiming the attack was staged by Britain to stoke up anti-Russia sentiment in Britain.

"There's nothing particularly even criminal about it, I assure you".

A Russian man wanted by the United Kingdom over the novichok poisoning of the Skripals says he will comment on the case next week.

Former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left critically ill after being exposed to the military grade nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury in March.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was carried out by officers of the GRU intelligence service and nearly certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state".

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.

"I would like to appeal to them so that they hear us today".

British officials demanded at a meeting with Russia's charge d'affaires that those responsible for the poisoning of the Skripals were brought to justice.

Detectives believe the front door of Mr Skripal's Salisbury home was contaminated with Novichok.

An Interpol Red Notice and European arrest warrant have been issued, though the Russian Constitution forbids them from being extradited.

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Vladivostok, said Putin's remarks contradict the earlier claims made by the Russian foreign ministry.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says two men identified by British police are private citizens, not government agents. "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.