British Prosecutors to Charge Two Russians in U.K. Nerve Agent Attack

Britain has accused Russia, which developed the toxic Novichok agent in the Soviet Union era, of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Reuters
Reuters
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This combination of undated handout pictures released by the British Metropolitan Police Service shows Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov.
This combination of undated handout pictures released by the British Metropolitan Police Service shows Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov.Credit: AFP
Reuters
Reuters

British prosecutors on Wednesday identified two Russians who they said tried to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military-grade nerve agent in England.

Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign spy service, and his daughter Yulia, were found unconscious on a public bench in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

Police say they believe the nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter was smuggled to Britain in a counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle and applied to the front door of Skripal’s house.

Britain blamed Russia for the poisonings and identified the poison as Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack.

A European arrest warrant has been issued for the two Russians, who were named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the prosecutors said. Police released two images of the men.

“We will not be applying to Russia for the extradition of these men as the Russian constitution does not permit extradition of its own nationals," said Sue Hemming, director of Legal Services at the Crown Prosecution Service.

Neil Basu, Head of Counter Terrorism policing, said the two suspects were travelling under aliases but were around 40 years old and had genuine Russian passports.

Basu said traces of Novichok contamination were found in the London hotel room where the two men had stayed. He said they arrived in Britain on March 2 and left on March 4.

"Tests were carried out in the hotel room where the suspects had stayed. Two swabs showed contamination of Novichok of levels below that which would cause concern for public health," Basu said.

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