Skripal affair: Moscow washes its hands of affair

One week ago Scotland Yard named and posted photos of two suspects in the Skripal case. Now President Putin has let it be known that while the men have been found, they are not Russian agents, have done nothing wrong and will make their own statements on the affair. The president's reaction only reinforces suspicions, Russian opposition media argue.

Open/close all quotes
Echo of Moscow (RU) /

You don't need time to tell the truth

Russia is taking suspiciously long time to react, Anton Orech writes in Echo of Moscow:

“Petrov [one of the suspects who has said he will make a statement] will speak, and the media will say that he's telling the truth. Then comes the icing on the cake: people will start insinuating that the poisoning was a deliberate provocation carried out by Britain to spoil the Fifa World Cup, ruin the chances of Putin or [Moscow mayor] Sobyanin of getting re-elected, or to drill a hole in the ISS without being noticed. But Petrov, too, is not talking yet but taking his time to prepare what he's going to say. In short, he's playing for time. It seems to me that if you had nothing to do with something, you don't need time to prepare how to say so. You simply stand there and say what happened. But if you've got skeletons in your closet of course you're going to need time.”

Vedomosti (RU) /

Putin has closed the case

Vedomosti also sees Moscow's announcements as a cover-up:

“The president's answer effectively ends the debate about the trail of evidence leading to Russia. ... Until now in all their statements Russian officials have tended to say that they knew nothing about the Skripal case. ... After Putin's remarks there's little chance of anyone with any clout daring to press ahead with the matter. Now the only people interested in the case have no clout whatsoever. And of course according to Putin Petrov and Boshirov themselves can tell this public what it wants to know. If they want to, that is, because after all they're free citizens - and above all, civilians.”

Den (UA) /

Of course it was the Kremlin

There has never been any doubt as to who was behind the attack on Skripal and his daughter, Andrej Plachonin comments in Den:

“Like the nuclear umbrella, Russia's veto rights in the UN Security Council give the Kremlin a one-hundred percent guarantee of impunity. ... Consequently this will not be the last of the crimes. ... The identities of those who carried out the attack are not as important as who ordered them to do it: those who right until the end feared their names would be mentioned in the document Theresa May presented to the British Parliament on Wednesday. ... Perhaps we will never learn the true names of the killers whose photos were made public on Wednesday. Nevertheless from day one everyone has known the name of the party that commissioned the crime.”

Právo (CZ) /

Scepticism still warranted

The leftist daily Právo finds London's latest accusations against Moscow less than convincing:

“This is not what sufficient evidence looks like. Nonetheless, the evidence that has now been presented is far more concrete. And above all they're offering a version of the events that looks realistic this time. But images taken by cameras aren't enough. They can be manipulated and faked. ... The British are blaming Russia, or more precisely President Putin. But for such an accusation a fundamental component is still lacking to date: an understandable and convincing motive for the attack on the ex-agent and his daughter.”

newsru.com (RU) /

Show us these two 'innocent travellers'!

The time has finally come for Russia to open an investigation against the two suspects, journalist Andrey Malgin comments sarcastically in a Facebook post published by newsru.com:

“Isn't this enough to prompt the Russian authorities to find these people and question them as quickly as possible? You 'weren't involved', so do it! ... But no, of course you won't. Instead you mutter on about lacking evidence and an anti-Russian conspiracy. ... Tell us something about these people who landed with certain passports (issued on the same day with consecutive numbers) on a certain flight at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. ... The secret agents walking around at protest marches look just like the ones on these photos. They think they can melt into the crowd, but instead they stand out.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

The facts speak for themselves

The lengthy investigations have paid off, the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:

“The evidence is enough to initiate court proceedings with a good chance of success. No doubt it won't come to that, however. Russia has no interest in a conviction so there's little chance of the suspects being extradited. That makes the two messages that come out of the tardy investigation results all the more crucial. Firstly, the time of subterfuge and deception is over: Russia cannot go on denying its involvement in the crime. The image of the Russian demimonde adheres to Putin's system like clingfilm. And secondly, no one should underestimate the power of the rule of law. If an independent investigator presents a chain of evidence in all transparency, as is now being done in the Skripal case, all the political blustering in the world won't help because the facts speak for themselves.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Moscow's killers had it too easy

Britain must do more against Russian secret service activities on British soil, The Daily Telegraph demands:

“Clearly Russia has exploited our relatively open borders, visa system and economy to attack our citizens and solidify its power. We should look carefully at whether this privilege should be restricted. Clearly, too, the killers were not recognised when they entered the country. What systems are in place, or could be put in place, to make sure that the same thing does not happen again? Are we doing enough to combat Kremlin disinformation?”

Echo of Moscow (RU) /

See you in the Duma

Anton Orech of the Echo of Moscow can well imagine that the two Russian agents under suspicion, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, will soon be deputies in the Duma, following in the footsteps of Andrey Lugovoy, whom London accuses of being responsible for murdering ex-agent Alexander Litvinenko with polonium in 2006:

“For our propaganda the revival of the Skripal case is a godsend. The menu needs to be updated, it's lost its bite. In the end Petrov and Boshirov will be known to every Russian housewife and then it'll be time for the next Duma elections. I's sure two free places can be found in the [far-right] Zhirinovsky party and if we add Lugovoy to the mix we'll have a complete troika. ... Unlike Lugovoy, however, they don't belong in the security committee but in the health committee.”