Russia’s Putin Calls Poisoned Ex-Spy ‘Scumbag,’ Traitor

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called Sergei Skripal, the ex-spy who was poisoned with a military grade nerve agent in Britain, a traitor and a “scumbag.”

This still taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on Wednesday Sept. 5, 2018, shows Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov at Salisbury train station on March 3, 2018. British prosecutors have charged two Russian men with the nerve agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. They are charged in absentia with conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and use of the nerve agent Novichok. (Metropolitan Police via AP)

It was the first time Putin directly condemned Skripal, who spent weeks hospitalized with his daughter after both were poisoned in the city of Salisbury in March. Britain put the blame squarely on the Russian government, but Moscow has denied any role in the attack.

Asked about international sanctions on Russia triggered by the poisoning, Putin called the ex-spy a “traitor” who betrayed his country and “just a scumbag.”

Putin reiterated Russia’s claim that it has nothing to do with the poisoning. He added that the former agent was of no interest to the Kremlin since he was tried in Russia and exchanged in a spy swap in 2010.

“He was caught, punished and served a total of five years in prison. We let him go. That’s that,” he told a panel discussion at an energy forum.

Britain charged two Russian men with the poisoning last month. Putin said the men were civilians who did nothing criminal, and urged them to speak to news outlets.

The pair then appeared on Russia’s state-funded RT channel, saying they had visited Salisbury as tourists and denying any involvement in the attack.

Last week international investigative group Bellingcat reported that one of the suspects, identified by authorities as Ruslan Boshirov, is in fact Col. Anatoly Chepiga of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, who was awarded Russia’s highest medal in 2014.

Several Russian media outlets interviewed residents in a village where Chepiga’s family once lived, who identified the colonel as the man caught in CCTV footage in Salisbury.

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