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

14 September, 2018, 19:15 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Salisbury Cathedral

The two men named as suspects in the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in the UK - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - have been speaking to RT, Russia's state-run worldwide broadcaster.

In the 25-minute interview the two men said these were their real names but said they did not work for Russia's military intelligence agency GRU, as Britain claims.

"What were you doing there?"

"Our friends had suggested for a long time that we visit this wonderful town", the men told RT, explaining their presence in Salisbury.

In the freaky 25-minute interview, the pair denied all knowledge of the plot and insisted they were just two men going on holiday to see the 123m steeple at Salisbury Cathedral.

Their detailed description of Salisbury's medieval cathedral and tall spire were part of the latest in a series of zigs, zags and twists from Russian Federation since Britain last week pointed the finger at the pair in the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

One senior security source said of the pair that the United Kingdom government "is clear they are GRU" (Russian foreign intelligence), and used a "devastatingly toxic" weapon on Britain's streets.

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Their interviewer did not ask them to account for Novichok traces which British police said were found in their hotel room.

"We were just taking in the English gothic [style]", Boshirov said.

"I have no doubt that Ofcom will look at it", said Mark Stephens, a senior member of the law firm Howard Kennedy, adding he expected the regulator would receive complaints about the interview.

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 two men admitted they may have passed Mr Skripal's house by chance "but we don't know where it is located", Mr Petrov said.

When the men identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov visited Salisbury in March, the city was in the snowy grip of the harshest winter to hit England in years.

The paper also noted they showed no evidence they had ever made it to Salisbury cathedral, which they cited as the city's main draw.

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They left after no more than an hour because of poor weather and heavy snow, but returned to the city the next day - March 4, the day of the attack. He said they were innocent and "nothing criminal" about them, apparently contradicting accusations by Scotland Yard that they were agents of Russian military intelligence. They were, they insisted, involved in the import of supplements and other items of interest to sports nutritionists.

The regulator said Thursday's interview had not yet triggered any new complaints but industry experts said the network had taken a big risk by airing the interview.

"In case we receive an official request from London, it will definitely be considered in strict accordance with the law, there is no doubt about that", the Kremlin spokesman noted.

Britain identified the Russian suspects last week and released security-camera photos of them in Salisbury on March 3 and 4. He expressed hope they would come forward and speak publicly.

They said, however, that they were surprised at the pair's failure to come up with a credible alternative story to counter a British police dossier that pointed to their involvement and to muddy the waters, a known Russian military deception tactic known as maskirovka.

In 2006, two Russians allegedly poisoned former spy Alexander Litvinenko in the British capital.

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