Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Downing Street rejects Putin claim that Salisbury attack suspects were civilians

EPA-EFE  ANDY RAIN EPA-EFE ANDY RAIN
Deanna Wagner | 15 September, 2018, 00:33

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

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.

Putin, speaking at an economic forum in Vladivostok, said of the Salisbury suspects: "We know who they are, we have found them".

"I have seen nothing to suggest that has changed", the spokesman said.

Two days later, they sprayed nerve agent Novichok on the front door of Skripal's home in the Wiltshire city of Salisbury, before travelling home to Russian Federation later that day, the police said.

"These men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU". "There is nothing unusual or criminal there, I assure you".

"There have never been and never will be such stupid people in Russian intelligence", journalist Nikolai Dolgopolov, who has written widely about spies, said on Vesti Nedeli.

The British government has said it believes the attack was sanctioned by the Kremlin - a charge that has been strongly denied by the Russian government.

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Det Sgt Nick Bailey also fell ill after responding to the incident in the city of Salisbury. The Skripals were hospitalized for months but recovered.

As NPR has reported: "Over the course of two days, the men traveled from London to Salisbury, England, twice - once to perform reconnaissance around the Skripals' home, and again to put lethal poison on their front door, police say".

The pair flew back to Moscow from Heathrow later that night.

Britain and more than two dozen other countries expelled a total of 150 Russian diplomats, and Russia kicked out a similar number of those countries' envoys.

This still taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on September 5 shows Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov at Salisbury train station on March 3.

Citing the GRU's reputation for strict discipline and hierarchy, May said of the attack on the Skripals, "It was nearly certainly also approved outside the GRU, at a senior level of the Russian state".

For months, Russian Federation has accused the British authorities of fabricating the evidence in the Skripal case, saying the surveillance footage is doctored.