TWO suspects hunted by cops over the Salisbury Novichok attack have been found – but Vladimir Putin today insisted they are “not criminals”.
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are being sought over the attack that left Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia fighting for life.
SWNS:South West News Service These men are wanted over the attempted hit on the Skripals in Salisbury
The men are believed to be officers of Russia’s military intelligence service – the GRU – and are understood to have returned to Russia.
But the country’s president Vladimir Putin claims they are “civilians” and encouraged them to come forward and tell their story.
He added: “We have checked what kind of people they are.
“We know who they are, we have found them.
“I hope they will turn up themselves and tell everything. It will be better for all of us. There is nothing criminal in it.”
Enterprise News and Pictures Sergei and Yulia Skirpal were poisoned by Novichok in March this year
Getty – Contributor Putin, pictured today, has claimed the men are just civilians Timeline of movements of Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov who are suspected of conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Wiltshire
Petrov and Boshirov were named by Scotland Yard earlier this month as the two suspects behind the Novichok attack in March.
European Arrest Warrants were issued for the pair and cops said they were suspected to be travelling under aliases.
The Skripals were saved thanks to the expert work of British doctors – with Yulia making a full recovery just weeks later.
She vowed to return to Russia, but her ex-spook dad is still receiving treatment for the “extremely painful” ordeal.
The same deadly nerve agent was also said to be responsible for the killing of mum-of-three Dawn Sturgess in nearby Amesbury, in June.
Her boyfriend Charlie Rowley picked up the fake Nina Ricci ‘Premier Jour’ perfume used to poison the Skripals on March 4.
SWNS:South West News Service Petrov arriving at Gatwick Airport two days before the Novichok attack
SWNS:South West News Service Boshov arriving at Gatwick two days before the attack
SWNS:South West News Service CCTV image of both suspects at Salisbury train station the day before the attack
SWNS:South West News Service Police said Novichok was brought into Britain in a Nina Ricci ‘Premier Jour’ perfume bottle
SWNS:South West News Service The perfume bottle was brought into the country a specially made poison applicator
A chilling timeline revealed the men arrived in the UK on March 2 before making their way to the £48-a-night City Stay Hotel in Bow, East London.
They stayed there for two nights and then went to Salisbury for reconnaissance.
Incredible CCTV footage shows the pair – who are believed to be in the 40s – smiling as they stroll through the city on the day of the Skripal attack.
They were filmed “moments before” the botched hit on March 4 and left the country hours later in a flight out of Heathrow, cops said.
Getty Images – Getty Forensics officers in radiation suits work at Sergei Skripal’s home
AP:Associated Press Sergei Skripal was a former Russian spy working for MI6
Social Media Dawn Sturgess, 44, died a week after falling ill in Salisbury
ITV Charlie Rowley was left in a critical condition after coming into contact with Novichok
Officers searching their room on May 4 – almost two months after the attack in Salisbury – are said to have discovered minute traces of Novichok.
Police said Novichok was brought into Britain in a Nina Ricci ‘Premier Jour’ perfume bottle with a specially made poison applicator.
Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May told the Commons the suspects were members of the Russian Military Intelligence Service and were not carrying out a “rogue operation”.
In a joint statement with Scotland Yard, the CPS said: “There is sufficient evidence to charge two Russian nationals named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with offences including conspiracy to murder over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.”
Police said they would not be seeking extradition for the pair, but Interpol Red Notices – which alerts all member countries that suspects are wanted – were issued.
Russia has denied any involvement in the attack on former Soviet spy Sergei – with the Russian foreign ministry laughing off the poisoning storm.
Their official Twitter account tweeted a split-screen video showing Mrs May’s robot dance set against a blonde woman dancing traditional Russian moves.
Accompanying the video was the message: “Choose your dance style in international relationship.”
More to follow…
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