Skripal poisoning suspects not criminals: Putin

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Yulia and Sergei were discovered slumped on a bench in a critical condition - with the nerve agent also poisoning courageous policemen Sgt Nick Bailey, and later residents Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said the two men Britain accused of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter are actually civilians, not military intelligence officers - and that there is "nothing criminal about them".

The British government recently said Scotland Yard detectives had identified Mr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as suspects, who they said were from Russia's foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU.

"I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today", he told an economic forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok. He added they would contact the media and tell their story soon.

"I hope they will turn up themselves and tell about themselves", he said. This would be best for everyone.

"There is nothing special or criminal about it, I can assure you". "We'll see in the near future".

British prosecutors have charged the two Russian men with the nerve agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.

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Police officer Nick Bailey was also admitted to intensive care after becoming contaminated when he visited the Skripal's house.

Rowley gave it to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, who later died.

It has further damaged already severely strained relations between Russian Federation and the West and has been a cause for solidarity at a time when Western officials accuse Moscow of seeking to cause rifts in relations between Western countries.

London and its allies expelled dozens of Russian diplomats after the poisoning, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Moscow and plunging relations to a new low. "The government has exposed the role of the GRU, its operatives and its methods, this position is supported by our worldwide allies", the spokesman told reporters.

So this was not a rogue operation.

British Prime Minister Theresa May squarely blamed Russia's military intelligence service on September 5 for carrying out the attack, adding that the upper echelons of the Russian state could also have been involved.

Petrov and Boshirov flew into Gatwick Airport on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow on March 2nd.

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