Salisbury nerve attack suspects say they were in United Kingdom as tourists

Putin MOCKS Britain over Novichok 2: 'We've FOUND THEM – they are civilians'

Putin MOCKS Britain over Novichok 2: 'We've FOUND THEM – they are civilians'

Two Russian men with the same names as those accused by the United Kingdom of the Novichok attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter have appeared on Russian state television.

The interview reportedly featured two men who physically resembled Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who were charged with attempted murder and the use of military-grade nerve agent Novichok in the attack on former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

After the Skripals were poisoned, Britain and more than two dozen other countries expelled a total of 150 Russians who were allegedly spies working under diplomatic cover. They returned the next day to see the sights. "We were drenched up to our knees", Boshirov said.

Russian state TV channel Rossiya-24 said Mr Petrov would give an interview to them next week, but just a day later both suspects have spoken to RT.

They said they "got wet, took the nearest train and came back" to London.

An except of the full interview was shown on RT News on Thursday morning, and an additional transcript can be seen here.

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.

"We arrived in Salisbury on March 3 and tried to walk through the town, but we lasted for only half an hour because it was covered in snow". The men denied having any poison or the counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle that United Kingdom police say was used to transport the weapons-grade nerve agent. They may have approached Sergei Skripal's house by chance, but did not know where it was located, they said. They'd been "extremely nervous and sweating" during the interview and it's for viewers to decide whether to believe them, she said.

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".

Speaking at an economic forum in Eastern Russia Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russian authorities were aware of who the suspects were, but dismissed British claims they were linked to the GRU, Russia's foreign military intelligence agency.

He tweeted that he was "delighted" the men were able to visit Salisbury's "world-class attractions", but said it was "very unusual to come all this way for just two days while carrying Novichok in their luggage".

When the interviewer asked them whether they had Novichok or any poison with them, they emphatically said no.

The men said they're partners in a business importing sports-nutrition supplements from Europe.

RT editor Margarita Simonyan said the men contacted her themselves by calling her mobile number. Before all this, we had no idea who Sergey Skripal is.

They spent New Year's Eve in Switzerland and have been to Vienna, the pair said.

"When your life [is] turned upside down, you don't know what to do and where to go".

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

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