The Margin: Watch this BBC reporter straight-up ask Putin if Russia poisoned an ex-spy

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It took some serious chutzpah to sidle up to one of the most powerful men in the world and ask about his country’s involvement in one of the biggest international incidents going right now.

But that’s exactly what BBC News’s Moscow correspondent did on Monday, and he’s getting some rave reviews for his straight-up question. Steve Rosenberg decided to seize the moment and ask Russian President Vladimir Putin if his country had anything to do with the nerve-agent poisoning of an ex-double agent and his daughter.

Putin was attending an event at the country’s National Grain Center when Rosenberg asked: “Is Russia behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal?”

Here was the Russian president’s response:

“We’re dealing with agriculture here, as you see, to create great conditions for people’s lives, and you talk to me about some tragedies. First, get to the bottom of it there, then we’ll discuss this.”

— Vladimir Putin, Russian President.

Former spy Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found collapsed last week in Salisbury, in the south of the U.K., poisoned with a military-grade chemical weapon.

Rosenberg posted the whole exchange on his Twitter account, where it has racked up nearly 2,000 retweets.

No doubt there’s plenty of pressure to pose the question right now, given the frosty relationship between London and Moscow right now.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is pointing the finger in Russia’s direction, after she told parliament Monday that the nerve agent was one of the Novichok class developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and ’80s.

May has given Russia until the end of Tuesday for officials to provide an explanation — whether the country’s agents were involved in the poisoning or authorities have lost control of the chemical weapon. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow will only cooperate if its officials are given access to what U.K. officials have learned.

In any case, while Rosenberg didn’t get his answer, he does seem to have earned the admiration of his fellow journalists, such as Stig Abwell, editor and publisher of the Times Literary Supplement, who tweeted: “The doorstep of the year will take some beating.”

There’s plenty more applause where that came from:

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