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Theresa May rejects Vladimir Putin’s claim Salisbury prime suspects are ‘civilians’

THERESA May has rejected Vladimir Putin’s claim that the prime suspects in the Salisbury chemical attack are simply “civilians”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman reiterated the UK’s position that they were in fact Russian spies “who used a devastatingly toxic illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country”.

Reuters

Prime Minister’s official spokesman reiterated that the prime suspects in the Salisbury attack were Russian spies

It comes after Moscow’s president said there is “nothing criminal” about Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are said to be behind the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal.

British authorities believe the pair smeared the highly toxic chemical Novichok on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of the ex-KGB officer.

Both Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left critically ill, along with DS Nick Bailey, the policeman who attended to them.

The perfume bottle the members of Russian military intelligence service the GRU used to transport the Novichok was found three months later, killing Dawn Sturgess and hospitalising her partner Charlie Rowley.

 Theresa May rejected Vladimir Putin’s claim Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are ‘civilians’

PRU

Theresa May rejected Vladimir Putin’s claim Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are ‘civilians’

But despite a raft of evidence implicating Mr Petrov and Mr Boshirov, Mr Putin made the claim they were not behind the poisoning.

In an address to the Easter Economic Forum in Vladivostok, he said: “Of course, we looked who these people are. We know who they are, we have found them already.”

He added: “There is nothing special and nothing criminal about it, I’m telling you.”

Questioned on whether the pair were civilians, he replied: “Of course they are civilians.”

 Russian leader Mr Putin said of the claims around the Salisbury attack 'there is nothing special and nothing criminal about it'

Getty

Russian leader Mr Putin said of the claims around the Salisbury attack ‘there is nothing special and nothing criminal about it’

In response Mrs May’s spokesman said: “We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March and they have replied with obfuscation and lies.

“I have seen nothing to suggest that has changed.”

Earlier today it was reported Mr Petrov will break his silence on the accusations next week, according to television station Russia 24.

Mr Putin appeared to approve of such an intervention, saying: “I hope that they will emerge (in public) themselves and tell about themselves. It will be better for everyone.”

Vladimir Putin is ‘ultimately’ responsible for the Salisbury chemical attack claims Security Minister Ben Wallace

Detectives believe it is likely the two Salisbury suspects, thought to be aged around 40, travelled under aliases and that Mr Petrov and Mr Boshirov are not their real names.
Prosecutors deem it futile to apply to Russia 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.
Today the security minister Ben Wallace said they entered the UK from Russia via Gatwick Airport, but said requests for Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury had been met with “obfuscation and lies”, saying their response merely “reinforces their guilt”.

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