Skripal poisoning: Putin says suspects 'civilians, no longer criminals'

Putin says two Skripal suspects are civilians

"We know who these people are, we have found them", Putin said in response to question at panel for an economic conference in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the poisoning, casting it as part of a Western plot to smear Russian Federation to justify more sanctions against it.

Investigators released a cache of evidence, including security camera images that captured the progress of the two men from an Aeroflot flight to the scene of the crime, and from there back to Moscow, the New York Times reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his government knows the identity of the men accused by Britain of trying to murder a former Russian spy, and they are not criminals. "Maybe later. Next week, I think", he was quoted as saying.

The comments came one week after United Kingdom authorities charged two Russian men with using Novichok nerve agent to poison former KGB spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians who they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - who they said had tried to murder the Skripals with a military-grade nerve agent in England.

He added with a smirk, "I hope they will soon appear and tell their own story".

The elder Skripal, who was a Russian intelligence agent who switched sides, as well as his daughter, survived the poisoning and now live in an undisclosed location.

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The British government has said it believes the attack was sanctioned by the Kremlin - a charge that has been strongly denied by the Russian government.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid warned that the men will be caught and prosecuted if they ever step out of Russian Federation.

Officers formally linked the attack on the Skripals to events in nearby Amesbury when Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the same nerve agent.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey also fell ill after responding to the incident in the city of Salisbury.

The Skripals spent weeks in the hospital.

On 4 March they travelled to Salisbury - having also visited for reconnaissance the previous day - where Mr Skripal's front door was contaminated with Novichok.

Russian Federation had previously said the names given to them by British prosecutors were meaningless.

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