UK accuses Russia of ‘lies’ after Putin’s Skripal poisoning denial

The hotel manager was called and ejected the journalists showing details for Scotland Yard

Britain deepened its diplomatic feud with Moscow on Wednesday, charging two men it says are Russian military intelligence officers with the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a double agent who betrayed the service by spying for the West.

Putin's declaration came seven days after British authorities announced that they had charged two Russian men, identified as Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with carrying out the poisioning on March 4.

Skripal - a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service - and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in the English city of Salisbury in March. "We know who they are, we have found them", he said.

Putin said he wants the suspects to come forward and talk to the media. This would be best for everyone. "There is nothing particularly criminal there, I assure you", he said. "We'll see in the nearest future".

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

Reacting to the prosecutors' statement, Russian envoy to UN Vasily Nebenzya joked that the nerve agent attack has so far had only one benefactor - Nina Ricci.

He said the government had exposed them as GRU operatives - and that is what they are.

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Putin and Russian Federation have vehemently denied having anything to do with the poisoning.

The British government also released detailed surveillance footage tracking the pair's apparent movements and an image of the perfume bottle purportedly used to administer the nerve agent on the Skripals' front door.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital on 8 July.

British authorities have said that a European arrest warrant has been issued for the two Russians, who they suspect were using aliases.

The case has strong echoes of the poisoning of ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in Britain in 2006.

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office, in turn, said that it had nothing against the idea of cooperation with British law enforcement agencies and that it hoped to receive some proof of Russian citizens' complicity in the Skripal poisoning case. Britain spent years trying in vain to prosecute the prime suspects, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun.

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