Russians charged in poisoning say they visited United Kingdom as tourists

Salisbury Cathedral

He said that they "maybe approached Skripal's house" while in Salisbury, but only unintentionally, as they "didn't know where it was located".

The journey was part of their holiday, they said, though they had also been in Europe to do business related to sports nutrition.

RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said the pair had called her mobile because they wanted to tell their story.

He wrote on Twitter: 'Delighted that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov [sic] were able to see the world-class attractions that #Salisbury has to offer.

Detectives believe it is likely the two suspects, thought to be aged around 40, travelled under aliases and that Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names. "The interview with Petrov and Boshirov had already been set, otherwise (Putin) wouldn't have spoken about them", political strategist Gleb Pavlovsky told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

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. "We pick up the most necessary, come here and decide how to deliver the new products from this market here". They returned the next day to see the sights.

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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". The two Russians entered the United Kingdom on an Aeroflot flight on March 2, departing March 4.

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 victims recovered after treatment in the hospital. Prosecutors say the Skripals came into contact with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent.

"Is it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume? When your life is turned upside down in a moment?"

Both men claimed to be afraid of going out, fearing for themselves and their loved ones. She said the interview was recorded on Wednesday evening. Simonyan said they refused to elaborate on their backgrounds or show their passports on camera. "It's quite hard to come up with a good story as an alternative".

FILE PHOTO: Flowers are left at the cordon near the tent covering the park bench where former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned in Salisbury, Britain, March 19, 2018.

Failure to show the men on TV "would have raised suspicions these people were no longer among the living", said Valery Solovei, a political scientist at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations. United Kingdom authorities blamed two former Russian agents, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, for the murder. They denied the allegation and Russian Federation refused to extradite them. In 2017, the U.S. imposed sanctions on him for his role in the case.

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