'Sounds ridiculous': Russians question novichok suspects' Salisbury trip

'Sounds ridiculous': Russians question novichok suspects' Salisbury trip

'Sounds ridiculous': Russians question novichok suspects' Salisbury trip

The men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told RT that they made the trek from Moscow for a three day visit to the British town of Salisbury last March for the goal of sightseeing - and not, as the United Kingdom government alleges, to poison Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The two men surfaced a day after President Vladimir Putin said Russian Federation had located Petrov and Boshirov, but that there was nothing special or criminal about them.

Editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said the men had promised to send her images of their visit to Salisbury Cathedral - which they claimed was the reason for their visit - but haven't done so.

They said they visited Salisbury to see its famous cathedral.

They spent no more than an hour in Salisbury and returned to London after abandoning a plan to visit the Stonehenge monument because of "muddy slush" and snow in the city, Petrov said.

Later in the interview, the pair of men denied allegations they work for the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service, instead claiming they work in the "fitness industry".

The two men who appeared on Russia's state-funded RT television station had some physical similarities to the men shown in British police images.

Its investigations into RT relate to the requirement that United Kingdom broadcasters commit to "due impartiality".

Now Russia has restated its denial of involvement in the attack by suggesting Britain could quiz Petrov and Boshirov if an official request is made.

"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".

Russian state media have tacitly promoted another reason for a cover-up, speculating heavily on whether the two men were being furtive about their trip because they are gay.

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"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.

When asked about the nerve agent Novichok, they emphatically denied carrying it, or the modified Nina Ricci perfume bottle, which United Kingdom investigators say contained the substance.

The Prime Minister's spokesperson accused the Russian state of manufacturing "lies and blatant fabrications" that "are an insult to the public's intelligence".

"The maskirovka script writer must have had writer's block", said Philip Ingram, a former British military intelligence officer.

The interview with Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, named as suspects in the Salisbury poisoning, appeared on RT on Thursday. British politicians immediately called the interview "not credible".

"When your life is turned upside down in a moment?" British intelligence services say the names are likely aliases, used for a mission in which they failed to kill Skripal. The Associated Press reports they were also shown visiting Salisbury a day earlier.

"They are civilians, of course", Putin said on September 12.

Both Skripal and his daughter recovered from the attack, but a woman who came into contact with a discarded perfume bottle that contained the nerve agent died. "You should ask [the United Kingdom police]".

The nerve agent was in a perfume bottle that Rowley found in a charity bin and gave to Sturgess, police said.

The British government said the interview was "deeply offensive to the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack".

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