United Kingdom poisoning suspects: 'We were tourists'

Russians accused by UK 'victims of coincidence'

Russians accused by UK 'victims of coincidence'

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov denied working for the Russian military intelligence service.

The man, who identified themselves as suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov, told the pro-Kremlin news channel RT that they travelled to the southern English town of Salisbury to admire its cathedral and ancient clock.

The men sat for an interview with the state-funded RT network one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government had tracked down the men whom British authorities accuse of using a Novichok nerve agent to try to murder former KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

The affair returned to the headlines in July when a woman near Salisbury, Dawn Sturgess, died and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after Mr Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing the Novichok nerve agent and brought it home.

The Kremlin meanwhile dismissed as "absurd" London's claim that the interview contained "lies and blatant fabrications".

Britain said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers nearly certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.

Petrov and Boshirov confirmed they arrived in Britain on March 2 and said they travelled to Salisbury the next day to see the sights. "We got wet, took the nearest train and came back [to London]". "Their passports match and the photos and the information from the British side shows it's these people", she said.

In the interview, they claimed to be in the fitness industry and said friends had suggested they visit "wonderful" Salisbury and to go sightseeing around Wiltshire. Petrov claimed they were trying to go for a walk on the 3rd, "but we lasted for only half an hour because it was covered in snow".

Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief, who conducted the interview, said on Twitter that "their answers are their responsibility" and it's up to viewers to decide whether to believe the men, who were "extremely nervous and sweating".

Questioned on whether the pair were civilians, Mr Putin replied: 'Of course they are civilians'.

An image from footage released by Scotland Yard police shows suspect Alexander Petrov. We weren't carrying any.

Theresa May, however, said the men were agents of Russia's foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU, and their actions were "almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state".

"Perhaps we did pass by Skripal's house, but we don't know where it is", said Boshirov.

They defended themselves in a freakish interview with Russian state TV on Thursday.

British intelligence services say the names are likely aliases, used for a mission in which they failed to kill Skripal.

The two men offered a reason for their visit: "They have a famous cathedral there, Salisbury Cathedral".

"The only thing I can agree with them on is that Salisbury is a fantastic place, and I will be doing all I can with business leaders to promote tourism next year and beyond".

What happened to the Skripals?

Just a day after President Vladimir Putin urged them to come forward, the two Russians the United Kingdom accuses of carrying out a nerve-agent attack on a former spy denied the charges in an interview with RT state television.

British police say their visit to the city on Saturday, March 3, was a reconnaissance mission for the real thing on Sunday. Ms Skripal was discharged from hospital on 9 April and her father on 18 May.

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