Two men named by British police as suspects in the poisoning of a Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, UK have come on TV to say they are Russian civilians and were merely tourists. The British police believe Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov to be officers of the Russian military intelligence, GRU.
In an interview to RT, Russia's state-run international broadcaster, the pair were interviewed by its chief editor, Margarita Simonyan. After introducing themselves with the same names as revealed by the British police, the men said they worked in the sports nutrition business and had travelled to London for a short holiday.
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told Simonyan that they had travelled to Salisbury to visit the chapel on the recommendation of friends. The town, situated close to the world-famous Stonehenge, attracted them because of the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “famous not just in Europe, but in the whole world.” It also hosts the best preserved of the four original copies of Magna Carta.
On being asked as to why they made multiple trips to Salisbury, the duo said they tried to walk through the town when they arrived there by train on March 3, but that “lasted for only half an hour because it was covered in snow,” Petrov told Simonyan. There was “slush" everywhere.
On March 4 though, “everything had melted away in London, there was warm and sunny weather.” So the two decided to go to Salisbury again to see Old Sarum and the cathedral, “to give it another try .”
— RT (@RT_com) September 13, 2018
British investigators claimed Petrov and Boshirov transported Novichok, the military-grade nerve agent used in the attack, in a fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle. The duo rubbished the claim, “Don’t you think that it’s kind of stupid for two straight men to be carrying perfume for ladies? When you go through customs, they check all your belongings. So, if we had anything suspicious, they would definitely have questions. Why would a man have women's perfume in his bag?” Boshirov said.
The UK government has since the poisoning incident worked with other countries to bring sanctions against Russia. After the broadcast of the interview, the UK government issued a statement rejecting the version given by Petrov and Boshirov.
"The lies and blatant fabrications in this interview given to a Russian state-sponsored TV station are an insult to the public's intelligence," Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said.