Putin insists the novichok suspects are ‘no criminals’

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Kremlin President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday two men accused in the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal are "civilians" who have no ties to Moscow - a dispute of findings made by the British government.

But Mr Putin said they were civilians and would tell their story soon.

"Of course, we've looked into who these people are".

Britain believes that Petrov and Boshirov - which may not be the two men's real names - are now in Russian Federation.

"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. Russian Federation has denied any role in the attacks.

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, who died.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Petrov and Boshirov "are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU". The Skripals were hospitalized for months but recovered.

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She further accused Russia of orchestrating the attack and claimed that the suspects were related to the Russian intelligence.

A 44-year-old British national, Dawn Sturgess, died in July from exposure to what police say was the same nerve agent that afflicted the Skripals, in a town just north of Salisbury. "I hope they will appear on their own to talk about themselves, that will be better for everyone".

For months, British and USA authorities have blamed the Kremlin for the attack, and London said Boshirov and Petrov were Russian intelligence agents.

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 pair, who are said to be operatives of the country's GRU military intelligence service, entered the United Kingdom from Russian Federation via Gatwick Airport in March, smuggling the nerve agent by using a perfume bottle.

London is reluctant to allow the Russian embassy to contact the Skripals in order to inquire after their health, find out about their current living conditions and figure out whether they were forced to remain where they are.

They said they would not formally demand the men's extradition, as Russian Federation does not extradite its citizens, but have obtained a European Arrest Warrant for the pair.

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