Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Accused Russian Hit Men: We Were in Salisbury for Sightseeing, Not Poisoning

Accused Russian Hit Men: We Were in Salisbury for Sightseeing, Not Poisoning

Russia's state-funded RT television station will air an interview on Thursday with two Russians who have the same names as the men accused by Britain of trying to kill a former Russian spy and his daughter, RT's head said.

CCTV footage of what appear to be the two walking in Salisbury on the day of the poisoning show little signs of slush or snow, as Max Seddon, Moscow correspondent for The Financial Times, pointed out on Twitter. A Russian firm selling airline tickets is now advertising trips to Salisbury, saying the town's cathedral is a sight worth traveling all the way from Moscow to see.

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

But British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement to the House of Commons last week that the Russian nationals were wanted for the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and attending police officer Nick Bailey on March 4.

The Kremlin-backed station aired the interview a day after President Vladimir Putin said Russian Federation had identified the men sought by Britain and urged them to address the media. "We got wet, took the train and came back [to London]", the pair told RT before adding that they returned to Salisbury the following day "to see the Old Sarum and the cathedral".

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RT ran part of the interview on Thursday morning, in which Petrov said: "We are those shown to you in the (CCTV) pictures. Today - just as we have seen throughout - they have responded with obfuscation and lies".

The Skripals survived being poisoned but a local man, Charlie Rowley, picked up a fake perfume bottle containing Novichok weeks later, British investigators have said.

They claimed they did not know who Skripal was or where he lived. They said they're partners in a business importing athletic food supplements from Europe.

British security services had named the men as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, but believed they were aliases.

A government spokesman said: 'The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service - the GRU - who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country.

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Britain last week charged Boshirov and Petrov in absentia, alleging they were agents of Russia's military intelligence agency known as the GRU who were dispatched to Salisbury to poison former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the nerve agent Novichok.

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.

The men are civilians and "we know who they are", Putin told an economic forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday in his first comments on the United Kingdom allegations. "When your life is turned upside down in a moment?"

Petrov said they arrived in the United Kingdom on 2 March, then travelled to a railway station to "see the timetable". We went through the corridor together, we always [do it] together.

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