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President Vladimir Putin said the two men accused by the UK in Skripals case were identified as civilians

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia has identified the two men that Britain named as suspects in the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

He also said there is “nothing criminal” about them. Speaking at a panel of an economic conference in Russia’s Far East Putin insisted they do not work for the military. “I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today: They should go to some media outlet. I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves,” Putin said. British Prime Minister Theresa May previously affirmed the use of a chemical weapon in the city of Salisbury, which left a British woman dead and four people, including Skripal and his daughter, seriously ill, was carried out by officers of the GRU intelligence service and almost certainly approved “at a senior level of the Russian state.”

two-accused-Russians
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov

The UK government named the two accused men as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and said they were from Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU. Russian state TV says one of the suspects, Mr Petrov, told the channel he might comment publicly on the case next week. It was suggested the most exciting news is yet to come  when the two suspects appear on TV in person and deal the final blow to accusations of Russia's involvement in the poisoning. UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has warned the men, thought to be aged about 40, will be caught and prosecuted if they ever step out of Russia. Russia accused the British authorities of Russophobia, misleading the international community and UK citizens and of "disgusting anti-Russian hysteria".

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