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Russia news: Putin MOCKS Britain over Novichok Two wanted for Salisbury attack | World | News

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Russia news: Putin MOCKS Britain over Novichok Two wanted for Salisbury attack | World | News

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The Skripals were left seriously ill after the apparent nerve gas attack in March, while resident Dawn Sturgess tragically died after being exposed to the poison months later in the village of Amesbury.

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians, whom they said were operating under aliases – Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – and whom they accused of being the so-called “novichock two”.

But Mr Putin said: “We have checked what kind of people they are. 

“We know who they are, we have found them.

“We hope they will turn up very soon and will tell everything themselves.

“It will be better for all of us.

“There is nothing criminal in it”.

Speaking at an economic forum in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, Mr Putin denied British allegations that they work for the GRU military intelligence service, insisting that they were in fact “civilians”. 

He did not say why the pair have not yet spoken to deny their role in the mission.

Anti-terrorist police have made it clear they believe GRU agents had used aliases for their attack on Sergei Skripal, 67 and his daughter Yulia, 34.

Mr Skripal is a former GRU agent who secretly spied for Britain before being pardoned by the Kremlin and exchanged with  among others – glamour agent Anna Chapman.

The Kremlin leader spoke amid new revelations indicating that the “spies” who planted novichok in Salisbury may have stolen the identities of Russian people for their mission. 

Britain has said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence officers almost certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.

Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs last week it was “not a rogue operation”.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incidents.

Mr Skripal – a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service – and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in the English city of Salisbury in March.

They spent weeks in hospital before being discharged.

Following the poisoning, it was indicated that the CIA would offer to settle the pair into a new life with new identities in the US, to protect them from any further assassination attempts.

Chris Phillips, the former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office said: “We trust those countries to do things the right way. No expense will be spared.”

Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley fell ill after Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing Novichok and brought it home.

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

(Additional reporting by Will Stewart)