Russian President Vladimir Putin said the two men whom British authorities charged in the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy and his daughter have been identified as “civilians” who do not work for the military, according to Russian media and The Associated Press.
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“We know who these people are; we have found them,” Putin said at an economic forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Wednesday, according to the AP.
He added, “There is nothing special or criminal about it, I can assure you.”
British authorities announced last week that Russian nationals Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov allegedly carried out the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England, earlier this year using a deadly nerve agent.
The men traveled on Russian passports and probably used fake names, the authorities said.
The British government has not responded to Putin’s most recent comments.
British Prime Minister Theresa May last week said the attack was “almost certainly” approved “at a senior level of the Russian state.”
The British government also released detailed surveillance footage tracking the pair’s apparent movements and an image of the perfume bottle purportedly used to administer the nerve agent on the Skripals’ front door.
Putin asked the men to go public. “I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today,” he said Wednesday. “They should go to some media outlet. I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves.”
If they do so, it would not be the first time accused Russian assassins have answered international allegations through the Russian media. Andrei Lugovoi, the Russian man accused by the U.K. government of killing ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, used a news conference in 2007 to deny the charge and accuse U.K. special services of conducting the assassination, according to BBC News.
An Interpol Red Notice and European arrest warrant have been issued, though the Russian Constitution forbids them from being extradited.