Rus­sia to con­sider UK bid to quiz toxin sus­pects

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS - AISHA IQBAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT

THE KREM­LIN has said it will con­sider any re­quest by Bri­tain to ques­tion the two sus­pects in the Sal­is­bury nerve agent at­tack.

The UK has ac­cused the two Rus­sian men, who ap­peared on Rus­sian tele­vi­sion on Thurs­day, of the at­tempted mur­der of former spy Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter Yu­lia in March.

Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any re­quest from Lon­don to in­ter­view them would be con­sid­ered in “strict ac­cor­dance with the law” but so far the Bri­tish had re­jected any of­fer to co-op­er­ate in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the Tass news agency re­ported.

“Only this week, we heard an of­fi­cial state­ment from Lon­don, which said that they did not plan to em­ploy the le­gal as­sis­tance mech­a­nism and send any re­quests to Rus­sia,” Mr Peskov said. “It is Lon­don’s of­fi­cial stance and we re­gret to say that it is im­pos­si­ble to make any as­sump­tions, un­for­tu­nately. In case we re­ceive an of­fi­cial re­quest from Lon­don, it will def­i­nitely be con­sid­ered in strict ac­cor­dance with the law, there is no doubt about that.”

In their RT tele­vi­sion in­ter­view, the two men, who gave their names as Alexan­der Petrov and Rus­lan Boshi­rov, said they had vis­ited Sal­is­bury as tourists and had noth­ing to do with the at­tack on the Skri­pals.

Their claims were dis­missed by Down­ing Street as “lies and bla­tant fab­ri­ca­tions”.

Bri­tain has said the two men are of­fi­cers in Rus­sian mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence – the GRU – who trav­elled to the UK un­der false names. Min­is­ters have made clear they have lit­tle ex­pec­ta­tion of be­ing able to ex­tra­dite them from Rus­sia to stand trial in the UK.

How­ever the Gov­ern­ment has warned that if they ever leave the coun­try again they will be ar­rest- ed and brought to Bri­tain to face jus­tice.

“They are wanted men and we have taken steps to en­sure that they are ap­pre­hended and brought to jus­tice in the UK if they ever again set foot out­side Rus­sia,” the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fi­cial spokesman said on Thurs­day.

The two men were widely ridiculed af­ter they claimed they had been to Sal­is­bury to visit the city’s cathe­dral, “fa­mous for its 123-me­tre spire”. Bishop of Sal­is­bury Nicholas Holtam even waded into the row, sug­gest­ing that the pair might have ben­e­fited from a visit to the build­ing and a view­ing of its copy of Magna Carta.

Re­spond­ing to the men’s claims, the bishop told BBC Ra­dio 4’s “It doesn’t re­ally add up, does it?” Asked whether there was CCTV footage of them at the cathe­dral, he said: “There’s noth­ing to link (them with) the cathe­dral that we have got.”

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