Salisbury Novichok attack: How Russian poisoning suspects snuck in UK

The poisoning of the Skripals earlier in March triggered a major diplomatic crisis between the United Kingdom and Russia

The poisoning of the Skripals earlier in March triggered a major diplomatic crisis between the United Kingdom and Russia

British prosecutors have announced charges against two Russian men they believe poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent, and Prime Minister Theresa May says the government has concluded the suspects were officers of Russia's military intelligence agency.

Calling it "the most significant moment so far" in the investigation into the Skripals' near-fatal encounter with the exotic poison, counter-terrorism police said the attack was carried out by Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - names that investigators say are likely aliases used for the operation.

Britain blamed Russian Federation for the poisonings and identified the poison as Novichok, a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and 1980s.

PHOTO:This undated image taken from the Facebook page of Yulia Skripal on March 8, 2018 allegedly shows Yulia Skripal, the daughter of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, in an unknown location.

The two Russian men have not been charged in connection with that case.

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Sue Hemming, CPS director of legal services, said there was enough evidence "to provide a realistic prospect of conviction" and that "it is clearly in the public interest to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov".

Police said the two men then applied the poison to Skripal's door and flew back to Russian Federation just hours later. They said the men flew from Moscow to London on Russian passports.

- They then travelled to the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road, East London, where they stayed on the Friday and Saturday night.

"We know that Novichok was applied to the Skripals' front door in an area that is accessible to the public, which also endangered the lives of members of the public and emergency service responders", Basu said.

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Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov arrived in the United Kingdom on a Friday afternoon in March and checked into a budget hotel in east London.

Police officer Nick Bailey, who searched the Skripal's home, was also poisoned.

Officers did not search their room until May 4 - two months after the Skripals were discovered unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury - but when they did, they found traces of Novichok.

They left Salisbury and returned to Waterloo Station, arriving at approximately 4.45pm and boarded the London Underground at approximately 6.30pm to London Heathrow Airport.

Police released images of a counterfeit Nina Ricci Premier Jour pink perfume box and bottle with a modified nozzle that was used to secrete the military-grade nerve agent into Britain. Dawn Sturgess died in a hospital in July, while her partner, Charlie Rowley, later recovered.

Britain and dozens of other countries have kicked out scores of Russian diplomats over the incident, and Moscow has responded tit-for-tat with an identical number of expulsions.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on September 5 that the names and photographs released by British authorities "say nothing" to Moscow. Both fell unwell. Police said tests later showed the bottle contained Novichok.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed Tuesday that Rowley and Sturgess were also exposed to Novichok.

Mr Basu said: "We do not believe Dawn and Charlie were deliberately targeted, but became victims as a result of the recklessness in which such a toxic nerve agent was disposed of".

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