Russians accused over Salisbury poisoning were in city 'as tourists'

Russians accused over Salisbury poisoning were in city 'as tourists'

A still image taken from a video released by the RT TV shows two Russian men who say they are Ruslan Boshirov (left) and Alexander Petrov.

Petrov and Boshirov, both charged in absentia by Britain last week for trying to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the nerve agent Novichok, went on the Kremlin-funded RT satellite channel today to proclaim their innocence, deny they were agents of the military intelligence service widely known as the GRU, and say they were merely tourists in the city southwest of London. "It's famous for its 123-metre spire, it's famous for its clock, the first one ever created in the world, which is still working", said Boshirov.

James Slack, spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May, derided their claims as "lies and blatant fabrications".

"We, of course, checked who these people are", said Putin.

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

Assistant Secretary of State, Manisha Singh, told a congressional hearing that Russian Federation has not yet accepted demands that it come clean about its production of the Novichok nerve agent used in the March 4 attempt to kill former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

The two men said they were exhausted and frightened by the impact of the Skripal case on their lives and made a plea to be left in peace.

The reason their first visit to Salisbury was so brief was because they had been forced to cut it short due to snow, they said.

While they may have passed the former agent Sergey Skripal's home, "we don't know where it's located", Boshirov said.

RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said the pair had called her mobile because they wanted to tell their story.

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"We spent no more than an hour in Salisbury, mainly because of the lags between trains", Mr Boshirov said. Much of Britain suffered such weather that day.

So what were these two men really doing in Salisbury? We know who they are, we have found them already. "We'll see soon enough", he said.

"From Heathrow Airport, they returned to Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2585, departing at 10.30pm on Sunday, 4 March".

They claimed they were now victims and were in fear of their lives.

When asked if they were carrying Novichok with them, both Petrov and Boshirov laughed it off.

"Let's not breach anyone's privacy", Boshirov replied.

"Sadly, it is what we have come to expect".

The two suspects portrayed themselves as businessmen who work in "sports nutrition" and often travel together around Europe, having once spent New Year's in Switzerland. "We'd made plans for staying in London for a while and for visiting Salisbury", said Petrov. "What is our fault?" Boshirov also called on the United Kingdom to apologize for the allegations, claiming their lives had been "turned upside down". "But very unusual to come all this way for just two days while carrying Novichok in their luggage", Tweeted John Glen, the Member of Parliament for Salisbury.

Scotland Yard published a series of photographs of the two men who, according to the investigation, were travelling around the country with passports issued in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. "But very unusual to come all this way for just two days while carrying Novichok in their luggage", tweeted John Glen, the Member of Parliament for Salisbury who is also a government minister.

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