United Kingdom cops track movements of Novichok suspects

The Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday that it did not recognize the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Police say they have not received reports of anyone who has stayed in the same room since falling ill, adding anyone who had been exposed would have experienced symptoms within 12 hours.

British authorities and the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog say the Skripals were exposed to Novichok, a type of military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the cold war.

Speaking before Scotland Yard's statement, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had repeatedly offered to cooperate with Britain in the Skripal investigation but had been met with "either refusal or silence".

A top Russian diplomat on Thursday denounced British accusations that Russian military intelligence agents poisoned a former spy in England, calling them base untruths aimed at whipping up hostility toward Moscow.

But assistant commissioner Neil Basu, head of counterterrorism at London's Metropolitan Police, conceded it was "very, very unlikely" police would be in a position to arrest them any time soon.

In this handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are shown on CCTV on March in London.

"Inside the box was a bottle and applicator", Basu said. "It was nearly certainly approved outside the GRU, at a senior level of the Russian state", she said. Police needed the public's help worldwide in identifying the men and their earlier movements.

"We have ascertained exactly who was responsible and the methods they used", Fleming told the Billington Cyber Security Conference according to extracts released by his office.

Peskov also said that Russian Federation "has no reasons" to investigate the two individuals charged on Wednesday because Britain has not asked for legal assistance in the case.

Police say they believe the nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter was smuggled to Britain in a counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle and applied to the front door of Skripal's house.

Afterwards they made their way to the City Stay Hotel in Bow, east London, for the first of their two-night stay.

Sue Hemming of the Crown Prosecution Service said the United Kingdom wouldn't ask Moscow to hand the men over because Russian law forbids extradition of its citizens.

Both Skripals were taken to hospital and ultimately survived.

British police have linked the poisoning of the Skripals with a case almost four months later that saw Charlie Rowley and his partner, Dawn Sturgess, hospitalised after they came into contact with the same military-grade nerve agent.

That confirms a statement made by Charlie Rowley, who said that in July he had found what he thought was a bottle of perfume, which he had given to his partner Dawn Sturgess who later died from the effects of Novichok. It contained Novichok. Basu said police had no doubt the events were linked, and were discussing charges over the Sturgess and Rowley case with prosecutors. As a result, Basu said, police weren't yet ready to bring charges in the second poisoning.

British authorities have determined that two Russian nationals were behind the March attack on former-Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The CPS said Petrov and Boshirov face charges of conspiracy to murder the ex-spy, and the attempted murder of Skripal, his daughter, and Nick Bailey, a policeman injured in the attack. One later won a seat in parliament.

A British inquiry concluded that Litvinenko had been killed at the behest of the Russian state, probably with the knowledge of President Vladimir Putin.

  • Rogelio Becker