Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

Skripal suspects: We were just visiting the cathedral

Skripal suspects: We were just visiting the cathedral

The men claiming to be Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, suspected of the attack on double agent Sergei Skripal in the southern United Kingdom city of Salisbury, denied any wrongdoing at their television debuton RT on Thursday.

"What were you doing there?"

"They have a famous cathedral there", Boshirov said, adding: "It is famous for its 123-meter spire".

The two men, both wearing blue jumpers, said they ran a sports nutrition business and that their lives had become a nightmare since London charged them with attempted murder after what they said was an innocent three-day trip to Britain.

A United Kingdom government spokesperson said the United Kingdom is "clear" that Petrov and Boshirov are agents with Russian military intelligence and slammed the interview as "lies and blatant fabrications".

That was the subtext to RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan's interview with the two suspects on Thursday, a conversation that lingered at moments on single beds and why they spent so much time together.

At one point their interviewer turned on an air conditioning unit because she noted they were sweating.

Britain said the attack was nearly certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state", an allegation that Moscow has vehemently denied.

"They are wanted men and we have taken all steps to ensure they are apprehended and brought to justice in the United Kingdom if they ever again step foot outside Russian Federation".

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The pair complained their lives had become a "nightmare" and they could no longer watch the news and urged journalists to leave them alone.

"We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it because there was muddy slush everywhere", Petrov said, referring to local landmarks.

In the men's first interview since they were named publicly they denied carrying women's perfume, after police discovered a counterfeit bottle that contained a "significant amount" of Novichok.

Asked about apparent inconsistencies in the two men's story, 44-year-old Muscovite Ivan Raspopov joked: "You know, Russian tourists often become rather unusual in the West". The U.K. alleges that the men worked for GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency. From a credibility point of view, the British government must stick to that position, McCauley asserted.

In this video grab provided by the RT channel, Ruslan Boshirov, left, and Alexander Petrov attend their first public appearance in an interview with the Kremlin-funded RT channel in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 13. The men denied having any poison or the counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle that United Kingdom police say was used to transport the nerve agent. The Associated Press reports they were also shown visiting Salisbury a day earlier.

Appearing nervous and uncomfortable, the men confirmed their names as those announced by the United Kingdom investigators - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Questioned on whether the pair were civilians, Mr Putin replied: 'Of course they are civilians'.

The Skripals survived being poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok, but Dawn Sturgess - a woman not connected to the original attack - died in July after being exposed to the same substance. "I'll show you the spire!"

The pair said their lives were turned upside down after they were publicly named by United Kingdom police. In the interview, the men say that they only walked around for less than an hour before getting soaked, giving up, and going back to the train station for a coffee.

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