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

Former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi turned his newfound fame into a political career

MISHA JAPARIDZE AP Former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi turned his newfound fame into a political career

Two Russians accused of a nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom have told Russian TV that they visited the city where the assault took place to see its historic cathedral, and not to poison a former spy.

The men, named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told the RT channel that they went sightseeing in Salisbury but returned to London within an hour.

"Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town", Petrov said in an interview with Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia Today, the state news network known as RT.

The told RT that they were only in Salisbury for tourism, and wanted to see the cathedral, its clock, and nearby Stonehenge.

"Salisbury welcomes tourists from around the world and is very much open for business", he added.

In the RT interview, the two men said they're not Russian agents, describing themselves as "second-tier businessmen" in the fitness industry.

"From the very start we planned to go to London and, put bluntly, cut loose and have some fun", he said in the interview which was pre-recorded on Wednesday and broadcast on Thursday.

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 incidents.

Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley fell ill after Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing Novichok and brought it home. He said that they "maybe approached Skripal's house" while in Salisbury, but only unintentionally, as they "didn't know where it was located".

'60 Minutes' chief Fager out at CBS
It was then noted: 'However, he violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level'. He said he didn't think one note would have resulted in a dismissal after 36 years at the network, "but it did".

United Kingdom prosecutors have said they have "sufficient evidence" to charge the pair but did not formally demand their extradition, as Russian Federation does not extradite its citizens.

The men also denied that they are, as British Prime Minister Theresa May asserted last week, agents of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service Skripal had betrayed.

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.

Petrov said they arrived in the United Kingdom on 2 March, then travelled to a railway station to "see the timetable".

"We examine the market, look if there is something new - some biologically active additives, amino acids, vitamins, microelements", the two said.

The pair, who the United Kingdom suspect of being members of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency, complained their lives had been "turned upside down" and RT said they sounded distressed during the interview.

The City Stay Hotel, where Russian suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov stayed, is pictured in Bow, east London, on September 5, 2018.

Asked whether they had recently been to any European state, the two said they had. Before all this, we had no idea who Sergey Skripal is.

British prosecutors said last week they had "sufficient evidence" to charge the two Russian nationals in connection with the attack on March 4. Boshirov also called on the United Kingdom to apologize for the allegations, claiming their lives had been "turned upside down".

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