UK Identifies 2 Russians it Believes Carried Out Nerve Agent Attack on Ex-spy

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British prosecutors named two Russian men they believe were behind the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. earlier this year.

They named the men as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. They have been charged with attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were found unconscious on a park bench in the small English city of Salisbury in March.

An international warrant has been issued for their arrest. The U.K. said it will not seek the suspects’ extradition as Russia does not extradite its own citizens.

Russia’s foreign ministry responded to the announcement saying the names published “do not mean anything to us,” state news agency RIA said, according to Reuters. It reiterated its position that the investigation of cases such as the Skripal poisoning requires “close cooperation and careful analysis.”

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack and has, in turn, accused the U.K. of fabricating it. The Kremlin also criticized the U.K.’s decision to not allow it to take part in its investigation.

Neil Basu, the U.K.’s counter terrorism chief, said the suspects were traveling under aliases but were around 40 years old and had traveled on genuine Russian passports. Basu said traces of the nerve agent used by the suspects to poison the Skripals were found in a London hotel room they stayed in before heading to Salisbury.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to make a statement on the announcement to members of parliament later on Wednesday.

In July, British police had said they’d identified several Russians who they believed were behind the attack but this is the first time they have named them.

Police officers man a cordon near a forensic tent (not pictured) where a man and woman had been found unconscious two days previously, on March 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England.

Novichok, a type of deadly nerve agent developed in Russia in the 1970s and 1980s, was used to poison the pair who became critically ill but later recovered.

A police officer that attended the Skripals also became critically ill but also later recovered. In July, however, two members of the public, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Burgess, were poisoned after they inadvertently came into contact with the nerve agent, believed to have been discarded after the attack.

Both became critically ill and Burgess later died.

—Reuters




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