Russian diplomat derides London’s response to Skripal suspects’ interview

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral. Getty

Two men accused by London of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal told Russian media on Thursday they visited the British city of Salisbury for tourist purposes and denied having anything to do with the murder attempt.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who were accused by Britain last week of trying to kill Sergei Skripal, gave an interview to Russian state television which aired on Thursday.

The two men confirmed that they were the men pictured travelling to and from Salisbury in images published by Britain's Metropolitan Police.

The Member of Parliament for Salisbury, John Glen, said the interview made by the suspects to RT is "not credible" and "does not match intelligence we have on the individuals", Sky News reported.

A European arrest warrant has been issued for the two suspects, but British prosecutors say they will not ask Moscow to extradite Russian citizens because Russia's constitution forbids it. "We got wet, took the nearest train and came back [to London]".

In a translation from Russian, the broadcaster quoted Petrov as saying: 'Well, we came there on March 2, then went to a railway station to see the timetable.

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any involvement in the case.

The affair returned to the headlines in July when a woman near Salisbury, Dawn Sturgess, died and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after Mr Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing the Novichok nerve agent and brought it home.

The men denied the allegations and said they visited Salisbury on March 3 for tourism but stayed for 30 minutes only. "These are civilians", he said this week.

May spokeswoman Alison Donnelly told reporters Thursday the United Kingdom remains confident "These men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service who used a devastatingly toxic chemical weapon on the streets of our country".

In this file grab taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on September 5, 2018, Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov walk on Fisherton Road, Salisbury, England, March 4, 2018.

They travelled to and from Salisbury on the weekend in March that Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned.

RT's editor-in-chief said the two men reached out to her as they wanted to tell their story because they are now living in fear for their lives.

"We, of course, checked who these people are", said Putin.

The Skripal case has been likened by British politicians to the murder of Russian dissident ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope in a London hotel in 2006.

In their first interview since being named as suspects by the British government they said they are victims of a "fantastical coincidence" and would like an apology from the real poisoners.

Boshirov said his life had been turned "upside down", according to RT. The customs are checking everything, they would have questions as to why men have women's perfume in their luggage. They recovered after treatment in the hospital. At the airport, we always go down one corridor.

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