'Novichok attackers were Russian military intel officers'

Sep 06, 2018, 07:02 IST | Agencies

Updating the Commons after police and prosecutors said the attack appeared to have been carried out by men travelling on authentic Russian passports under the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the prime minister promised a stern response

'Novichok attackers were Russian military intel officers'
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov

Two Russian nationals named and charged over the novichok poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury have been identified as officers from Russia's military intelligence, Theresa May has said, saying the attack was clearly authorised by Moscow. Updating the Commons after police and prosecutors said the attack appeared to have been carried out by men travelling on authentic Russian passports under the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the prime minister promised a stern response.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was enough evidence to charge the men, who arrived in the UK on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow days before the attack. May began by outlining the "painstaking and methodical work" police work that identified the suspects, saying 25 detectives examined 11,000 hours of CCTV footage and took 1,400 statements.

 The counterfeit perfume box that contained the nerve agent
The counterfeit perfume box that contained the nerve agent

"We were right to say in March that the Russian state was responsible. And now we have identified the individuals involved we can go even further," she said. "I can today tell the house that based on a body of intelligence the government has concluded the two individuals named by the police and CPS are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU.

Russia, May said, had sought to "hide the truth by pushing out a deluge of disinformation", which only pointed further to its involvement. The CPS said it had charged the two men with conspiracy to murder the Skripals and DS Nick Bailey, who fell ill after going to the Skripal home after the Russian pair were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury. The two Russian suspects are also charged with the use and possession of novichok, contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act. They are also charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Yulia Skripal and DS Bailey.

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