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Thursday 13 December 2018

Russia will 'consider' UK request to interview Salisbury suspects

TV denials: Ruslan Boshirov, left, and Alexander Petrov speak with the Kremlin-funded RT channel in Moscow.
PHOTO: AP
TV denials: Ruslan Boshirov, left, and Alexander Petrov speak with the Kremlin-funded RT channel in Moscow. PHOTO: AP

Gavin Cordon

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.

"It is London's official stance and we regret to say that it is impossible to make any assumptions, unfortunately," Mr Peskov said.

"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."

Attack: The suspects, believed to be travelling as Alexander Petrov (left) and Ruslan Boshirov. Photo credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wir
Attack: The suspects, believed to be travelling as Alexander Petrov (left) and Ruslan Boshirov. Photo credit: Metropolitan Police/PA Wir

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 arrested 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".

They said they had cut short their visit and returned home early without visiting Stonehenge because of the snow.

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