Following the publication by the Metropolitan Police of images depicting two suspected perpetrators of the attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the investigation required scrupulous analysis of data and close cooperation among law enforcement agencies.
“We once again urge the UK side to switch from public accusations and information manipulation to practical cooperation through law enforcement agencies. … London has received numerous relevant inquiries from the Russian side. The investigation of such serious crimes, which have been repeatedly claimed by the United Kingdom, requires the most careful work, scrupulous analysis of data and close cooperation,” Zakharova told reporters.
The spokeswoman noted that the names and photos of the two suspects, released by the UK side, “say nothing.”
Commenting on the accusations, the Russian Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said the UK accusations against Russia over the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury on March 4 were groundless.
“The contents of the report were rather vague, but it did not prevent the United Kingdom from immediately claiming that its point has been proven, it was Novichok again, it was Russia again, and other nauseous allegations of Russia’s involvement,” Shulgin told the Rossiya 1 broadcaster.
The official further noted that if London didn’t want to directly deal with Russia on the Skripal case, it could be done through the OPCW.
Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov commenting on the UK’s Wednesday statement about Russia’s alleged role in the Salisbury nerve agent attack said that the information was controversial.
“We have only heard or seen two names, but these names do not tell me personally anything… Moreover, there was then a commentary by the Scotland Yard that these names were supposedly fictional. I do not understand why this was done and what kind of signal the UK side sends. It’s difficult to understand,” Ushakov stressed.
Metropolitan Police Accuse Two Russian Nationals of Skripals’ Poisoning
Earlier in the day, at a private press briefing, the Metropolitan Police released images of two suspected perpetrators of the attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury on March 4.
“Today we are releasing further information and a number of images in the hope that the public can assist us further. … I am, therefore, appealing for anyone who has information about the suspects named by the CPS today as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov to contact police. Both suspects are approximately 40 years old, and are Russian nationals who were traveling on Russian passports,” Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who is also a UK national lead for the Counter Terrorism Policing agency, said in a statement.
The official suggested that the two suspects arrived at London Gatwick Airport from Moscow on March 2. They stayed in London’s City Stay Hotel that day as well as the following one.
On March 3, the suspects allegedly made a trip to Salisbury for reconnaissance purposes. On March 4, CCTV footage shows them near the Skripals’ house, where they purportedly contaminated the front door with the Novichok nerve agent.
Basu said that the two individuals left the country that same day.
The police also released details of the perfume bottle used to transport the lethal substance into the UK — Nina Ricci’s Premier Jour
Tests have shown that it was fake, specially made to dispense poison. Basu further said it was likely that the suspects were traveling under aliases, and Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names. They are believed to be around 40 years old. The CPS said it would not be applying for the extradition of the two men from Russia, but a European arrest warrant has nonetheless been issued.
In an official statement, Basu said the charges were a “significant moment” in “one of the most complex and intensive investigations we have undertaken in Counter Terrorism policing.”
Around 250 detectives from across the Counter Terrorism Policing network are said to have worked on the investigation, led by Counter Terrorism Policing South East, and supported by officers from Wiltshire, as well as partners and agencies ranging from Public Health England to the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down.
UK Prime Minister Says Russian Military Intelligence Behind Salisbury Attack
UK Prime Minister Theresa May, in her turn, said that the Russian military intelligence was behind the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the city of Salisbury on March 4.
“We were right to say in March that the Russian state is responsible… Based on a body of intelligence, the government has concluded that the two individuals named by the police and CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as GRU,” May said.
Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in the UK city of Salisbury in March after being exposed to what UK authorities have claimed was a military-grade nerve agent. Both have since been discharged from hospital. London has accused Moscow of orchestrating the attack. Russian officials have strongly refuted the allegations, stressing that they are groundless, and pointed out that Moscow’s request to assist in the investigation has remained unanswered.