Putin defends men accused by Britain in Novichok poisoning

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said the two men whom British authorities charged in the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy and his daughter have been identified as "civilians" who do not work for the military, according to Russian media and The Associated Press.

Putin goes on to claim that his government has "found them" and he sincerely hopes that they'll come forward and tell their side of the story soon. I hope they will come out themselves and speak about themselves.

Last week, the United Kingdom authorities named the men as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, members of Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU.

"They are civilians of course".

Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that the order to carry out the nerve agent attack on 4 March came from the "highest level" of the Russian state.

Mr Skripal and Yulia were poisoned in the city of Salisbury in March.

Photographs showing Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two men accused of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal. There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you.

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Lucia, where she lives and where her son grew up, said her son's death "just feels like a nightmare". Jean agreed but later confessed that he had said yes without actually knowing the song.

Citing the GRU's reputation for strict discipline and hierarchy, May said of the attack on the Skripals, "It was nearly certainly also approved outside the GRU, at a senior level of the Russian state".

Russian Federation has consistently denied any role in either incident.

Yulia and Sergei were discovered slumped on a bench in a critical condition - with the nerve agent also poisoning fearless policemen Sgt Nick Bailey, and later residents Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess.

A couple who authorities said found the perfume bottle after it was discarded by the attackers fared worse: Charlie Rowley recovered after treatment in the hospital but his partner, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died on July 8.

May's spokesman said later that Britain's attempts to get an explanation from Russian Federation have always been met with obfuscation and lies.

Prosecutors deem it futile to apply to Russian Federation for the extradition of the two men but a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained and the authorities are also seeking the assistance of Interpol.

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Vladivostok, said Putin's remarks contradict the earlier claims made by the Russian foreign ministry. "The government has exposed the role of the GRU, its operatives and its methods, this position is supported by our global allies", the spokesman told reporters.