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

Former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi turned his newfound fame into a political career

MISHA JAPARIDZE AP Former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi turned his newfound fame into a political career

This week, the two men appeared on RT to assert their innocence and claimed they were visiting the small town of Salisbury not to expose Skripal to the nerve agent Novichok, but to check out a cathedral.

When Simonyan seemed to express some surprise at this characterization of an English city that is not well-known overseas, Boshirov answered simply "Yes".

"Salisbury welcomes tourists from around the world and is very much open for business. 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. Those details are not common knowledge for most Britons, but they are available on the Wikipedia page of the cathedral.

Anti-terrorist police have made it clear they believe GRU agents had used aliases for their attack on Sergei Skripal, 67 and his daughter Yulia, 34. They were, they insisted, involved in the import of supplements and other items of interest to sports nutritionists.

British police released CCTV footage and photographs showing the two men walking in Skripal's neighbourhood on March 4, the day of the attack. "Don't you think it's silly for straight men to have women's perfume with them?"

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When the interviewer asked them whether they had Novichok or any poison with them, they emphatically said no.

The two Russian men, who say they are both about 40, were identified last week as suspects by the British government.

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

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any involvement in the case.

"We hope they will turn up very soon and will tell everything themselves".

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Putin's claims were rejected Wednesday by James Slack, spokesman of British Prime Minister Theresa May, who called the men GRU officers "who used a devastatingly toxic illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country". "Today - just as we have seen throughout - they have responded with obfuscation and lies".

Ruslan Boshirov, left, and Alexander Petrov attend their first public appearance in an interview with the Kremlin-funded RT channel in Moscow, Russia, Thursday.

"We, of course, looked at what kind of people they are, and we know who they are, we found them", Putin told an audience at the Eastern Economic Forum in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

They said they wanted to go to Stonehenge but were prevented from doing so because there was "muddy slush everywhere" so they got wet and went back to London an hour after arriving, as there was an intermittent weekend train service. They said they had fallen victim to a "fantastical coincidence".

Addressing CCTV pictures of both men passing through a gate at Gatwick airport at exactly the same time, Mr Boshirov said: "We always go together through the same corridor and the same custom service officer or a policeman". They were "civilians", Putin said, before encouraging them to come forward and speak to the media. Before all this, we had no idea who Sergey Skripal is.

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