Russian Poisoning Suspects: We Were Just Tourists

DS    
     TV SENSATION The Novichok attack suspects have been interviewed by Russia Today

Two suspects in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter have told Russian state TV they visited Salisbury merely "as tourists".

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians, whom they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - and whom they accused of being the so-called "novichock two".

CCTV footage of what appear to be the two walking in Salisbury on the day of the poisoning show little signs of slush or snow, as Max Seddon, Moscow correspondent for The Financial Times, pointed out on Twitter.

The second suspect, Ruslan Boshirov, said: "We spent no more than an hour in Salisbury, mainly because of the lags between trains".

The British government on Thursday issued a statement after the interview was released, reiterating their claim that Russian authorities were lying about the case.

The Kremlin-backed station aired the interview a day after President Vladimir Putin said Russian Federation had identified the men sought by Britain and urged them to address the media.

Replying to the interviewer's question why the pair went to Salisbury for two days in a row, Boshirov said that when they first got to the town it was snowy and they got wet "up to the knee" so they chose to take the train back the following day.

"From the very start we planned to go to London and, put bluntly, cut loose and have some fun", he said in the interview which was pre-recorded on Wednesday and broadcast on Thursday.

"Well, we came there [to the UK] on 2 March, then went to a railway station to see the timetable".

'We have repeatedly asked Russian Federation to account for what happened in Salisbury in March. The men denied having any poison or the counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle that United Kingdom police say was used to transport the weapons-grade nerve agent.

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They told state-controlled outlet RT News that they were in Salisbury, where Skripal and his daughter were poisoned, because their friends had recommended its "famous cathedral".

The Metropolitan Police published the suspects' photos, saying their names were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

The UK has described them as agents of Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU.

Mr Skripal - a former Russian military intelligence colonel who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service - and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in Salisbury in March.

The interview comes a day after President Vladimir Putin said the two men were not criminals, reversing his government's previous claims that the names given by London were meaningless. Before all this, we had no idea who Sergey Skripal is.

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

Chris Phillips, the former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office said: "We trust those countries to do things the right way".

"We're afraid of going out, we fear for ourselves, our lives and lives of our loved ones", Boshirov said. At the airport, we always go down one corridor.

Police believe Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley, had accidentally found the Novichok-laced perfume bottle, exposing them to the toxic nerve agent.

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