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Russia's Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that two men Britain suspects of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal with military-grade nerve agent had been identified as "civilians" and were not criminals.

"We know who they are already, we've found them", Putin said, according to The Moscow Times.

Putin said Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov may soon make appearances in the media to protest their innocence.

Viktoria Skripal, the niece of Sergei Skripal, said last week she did not know anything about the two men. "There is nothing particularly criminal there, I assure you", he said. "We'll see in the near future", he added.

If they do so, it would not be the first time accused Russian assassins have answered worldwide allegations through the Russian media.

The Skripals' poisoning by the deadly nerve agent Novichok on March 4 triggered a tense diplomatic show down between Russia and the West. Britain and more than two dozen other countries expelled a total of 150 Russian spies working under diplomatic cover, and Russia kicked out a similar number of those countries' envoys.

The British government has said Putin is ultimately responsible for the attack, a claim the Kremlin has furiously denied.

Mum-of-three Sturgess was the one fatality of the incident which plunged relations between Britain and Russian Federation to lows not seen since the Cold War.

He accused Britain of attempting "to unleash a disgusting anti-Russian hysteria".

Britain has said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence officers nearly certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.

The Kremlin leader spoke amid new revelations indicating that the "spies" who planted novichok in Salisbury may have stolen the identities of Russian people for their mission.

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.

British police said the suspects, both about 40-years old, flew from Moscow to London on Russian passports two days before the Skripals were poisoned.

The UK's Crown Prosecution Service said it is not applying to Russian Federation for the two men's extradition, because Russian Federation does not extradite its own nationals, according to the BBC.


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