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Putin says there's nothing 'criminal' about Russian suspects in U.K. poisoning

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his government had identified the Russian nationals Britain named as suspects in the nerve-agent poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, and can "assure you" there is "nothing special or criminal" about them. BBC reports that he denied Britain's conclusion that they were Kremlin agents.

Britain said last week that the two men were agents of Russia's military intelligence agency and charged them in absentia with the nearly fatal poisoning of the Skripals. The men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are accused of smuggling poison into the U.K. in a perfume bottle, and British officials said there was ample evidence "to provide a realistic prospect of conviction."

Putin said the men don't work for Russia's military. "I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today," Putin said. "They should go to some media outlet. I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves. This would be best for everyone," he continued, reports The Associated Press. While the U.K. government felt confident that the men were agents of the Kremlin's GRU, Putin claimed they were "civilians, of course." Read more at BBC.