Russia to consider UK bid to quiz toxin suspects
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.”