Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

'Skripal suspects' tell Russian media they visited Britain as tourists

'Skripal suspects' tell Russian media they visited Britain as tourists

The men said that far from plotting to poison a turncoat spy with a deadly nerve agent, they were actually just in England to admire the Gothic architecture in the city of Salisbury.

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United Kingdom prosecutors say they have obtained a European arrest warrant for two Russians, identified as Alexander Petrov (R) and Ruslan Boshirov (L), blamed for the Salisbury attack.

When asked if British investigators could visit Russian Federation to question Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, whom London suspects of being involved in the Salisbury incident, Peskov said that there was a legal assistance mechanism based on bilateral agreements and global law.

Petrov, asked what the duo were doing in England, said their friends had always been encouraging them to visit the "wonderful town" of Salisbury.

Skripal, who was jailed in Russian Federation for betraying dozens of military intelligence officers in the 1990s, came to Britain in a 2010 spy swap.

Britain said it was clear the two men, who appeared on Russia's state-funded RT television, were agents of Russia's GRU military intelligence who carried out the attack, and their interview an example of Russia's "obfuscation and lies".

On the first attempt - the British say this was a reconnaissance mission - the two men stayed only an hour and didn't manage to walk the few hundred yards from the train station to the cathedral because of the awful snow and slush.

In the RT interview the men said they had both been in Salisbury and were the people identified in the security stills.

He claimed his life had been turned "upside down" and added: "We're afraid of going out, we fear for ourselves, our lives and lives of our loved ones". He urged to contact the media, and Petrov said he heard Putin's statement on the radio and contacted Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief who conducted the interview.

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They said they did not work for GRU, were ordinary businessmen, and the victim of what they called "a fantastical coincidence".

The two men offered a reason for their visit: "They have a famous cathedral there, Salisbury Cathedral".

"Of course, we went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it because there was muddy slush everywhere", they told RT. The Russian President insisted they were innocent and "civilians", contradicting accusations by Scotland Yard that they were agents of Russian military intelligence, the GRU, which Mr Skripal used to be a member of.

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday described an interview of Skripal case suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with Russia's RT channel as an 'insult to the public's intelligence'.

British intelligence found the novichok was stored in a fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle, but the two suspects said that would be a ridiculous way for them to transport poison, which they denied having, as it would be "silly for decent lads" to have women's perfume.

The two men say that they can't leave their homes in Russian Federation any more out of fear that they'll be recognised on the street. "We didn't have it".

They spent weeks in intensive care in hospital before recovering.

"We were drenched up to our knees", Boshirov said. Sadly, it is what we have come to expect.

"It is London's official stance and we regret to say that it is impossible to make any assumptions, unfortunately", Mr Peskov said.

"One goes, the other waits".

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