- Vladimir Putin says Russia has found men suspected of Novichok attack
- He spoke at Russian economic forum and said they were civilians
- British authorities said Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were suspects
- Downing Street reiterated this claim and accused Russia of telling lies
- It is claimed the pair are members of Russian military intelligence service GRU
- One has vowed to 'break his silence' but will not speak until next week
Mystery deepened today over the pair of 'Russian assassins' who flew to London to poison the Skripals with novichok.
Vladimir Putin claimed they were civilians not GRU military spies and had done nothing criminal - as he urged them to come clean and tell their story.
But one - who appears to work for a drugs company in Tomsk, Siberia, making vaccine against smallpox - snubbed him by refusing to speak before next week.
'No comment for the moment. Maybe later. Next week, I think,' a man identified as Alexander Petrov was reported to have told State television channel Rossiya-24.
Last week the same man had told Russian TV: 'I don't know a thing about it. And I have nothing to do with the Skripal story.'
He claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity, and denied possessing a foreign passport.
'This is a complete coincidence,' he said. 'Let alone London, I can't even manage to get to the Altai Mountains (in southern Siberia).'
The other suspect, Ruslan Bochirov, also named by anti-terror police in London, has not so far spoken and showed no immediate indication of obeying Putin’s call.
And if Putin intended to imply that Petrov had been innocently in Britain, this was immediately denied by Viktoria Skripal, niece of poisoned ex-double agent Sergei Skripal.
'According to my information, real Alexander Petrov was not in the UK at that time,' she told Interfax news agency.
Viktoria went on to say about Petrov and Boshirov: 'Through my sources I know that these are ordinary people. Petrov's work is even not related to the government.'
Without naming her sources she said that Petrov and Bochirov 'and their close ones are in complete bewilderment and shock over what's happening.
'I knew it from the first day that this whole story about involvement of Petrov and Boshirov is fake.'
This claim appeared to contradict Putin who said the Russian government had 'found' the pair identified by Britain.
We've found them, and hope they will come forward and tell us about themselves,' said the Kremlin leader.
'This would be best for everyone. There is nothing special here, nothing criminal, I assure you.'
Meanwhile newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets (MK) claimed pictures of the Petrov from Tomsk do not appear to match the man seen in London on CCTV footage.
A separate Alexander Petrov - a common Russian name - has grandparents who were in Stalin’s SMERSH ‘death to spies’ killing machine, but Russian state-run TV, at least, appears to think he is the wrong man.
This is despite his foreign passport - evidently used to travel to London - apparently matching his address in Moscow.
This Petrov once ran a lingerie plant in Ukraine - and left under a cloud of debt, according to his business partner today.
Also today, MK today claimed there are many 'unexplainable moments in Ruslan Boshirov’s biography'.
It came as Downing Street accused Russia of lying after Vladimir Putin claimed that the two men identified as suspects by British authorities were 'civilians, not criminals'.
They identified the pair as Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov and claimed they were members of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence network.
The Russian premier said he knew the true identities of the men accused of trying to murder Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia and denied they were spies.
The Kremlin also claimed that Petrov worked for a pharmaceutical company and was not involved with the military.
But Theresa May hit back at these claims and said Russia has repeatedly failed to answer questions over what the men were doing in the UK if they were not involved.
Official documents suggest Boshirov was born on 12 April 1978 in Dushanbe, capital of ex-Soviet republic Tajikistan.
Now 40, he apparently lived in Blagoveshchensk, deep in Siberia, before moving to Moscow.
Intriguingly, MK newspaper said a passport issued in his name shows a picture similar to the CCTV pictures from Britain.
This passport - believed to be his domestic identity document not a foreign travel document - was issued in 2010, it was reported.
'A passport with the name of Ruslan Boshirov actually exists. It was issued… in Moscow on 20 October 2010.
'The man on the picture looks very much like the man who is suspected by the British of poisoning the Skripals.'
The paper did not published the picture - but it emerged tonight. Yet the trail for Boshirov goes cold.
Official databases suggest Boshirov lives in a flat with a non-existent address - or, according to another version, one occupied in a 25-storey Moscow block by a woman called Alina Isakova, owner of the apartment for 11 years.
'The woman swears by God that a Ruslan Boshirov is not registered and has never been registered at her address,' reported MK. 'She lives with with her husband and teenage son in a one-room apartment 43.3 square metres in size.'
Isakova fumed: 'I am tired explaining to everyone that I do not know this person. In the past two days we've been attacked by journalists.
'They even managed to get through our concierge that a fly cannot pass. No one would have been able to register him without my knowledge.'
MK concluded: 'There is no reason not to trust Isakova… This is why it is possible to say that at least the information about the residential registration of Ruslan Boshirov is incorrect.'
Boshirov’s parents are listed as Tatiana Sergeyevna Boshirova and Timur Mikhailovich Boshirov.
But MK insists it was told by the Russian migration service that 'there are no such people' on their databases. Their names are not on other Russian registers.
Two mobile phones issued to the man are 'blocked', reported the newspaper.
'Two messengers are registered to one of them showing that this user was last seen online on March 11, precisely one week after poisoning of Skripals.'
Separately Viktoria Skripal denied claimed the story was like 'a good detective story, or bad vaudeville…'
On Petrov and Boshirov, she said: 'I don’t know who they are…they might be fake identities, and they might be real.
'TV shows some strange shots from (Gatwick) airport which make me want to say that if you fake a story, fake it better. These two were seen in Salisbury.
'Sergey has CCTV cameras at home. Why didn’t we see them by the house?
'Reports suggested that it took Sergey and Yulia up to four hours to succumb to Novichok.
'Earlier we were made to believe that the military-grade nerve agent kills almost instantly.
'Then, a door handle was sprayed or smeared with Novichok. So why wasn’t the house demolished, why does it still there, contaminated.
'There are two more houses as close as 20 metres to Sergey’s house, people continue to live there and don’t get poisoned - how come?
'People who got close to Novichok, namely who lived next to the site and who stood in the police cordon, none of them got poisoned. I find it strange. Could this be a GRU punishment to a traitor?
'Honestly, I find it somewhat ridiculous. Does the Russian GRU have nothing better to do? Don’t we have problems in Ukraine? Don’t we have heaps of other problems?
'Sergey was one of four who was pardoned; the last on the list (of spies exchanged in the swap with Anna Chap