Skripal poisoning suspects say they were in United Kingdom as 'tourists'

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The men sat for an interview with the state-funded RT network one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said his government had tracked down the men whom British authorities accuse of using a Novichok nerve agent to try to murder former KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

A still image taken from a video footage and released by RT worldwide news channel on September 13, 2018, shows two Russian men with the same names, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as those accused by Britain over the case of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, during an interview at an unidentified location, Russia.

They denied trying to kill Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury on March 4, in an attack London believes was sanctioned by the Kremlin.

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.

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

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

The pair said they may have approached the Skripal's house, but were not aware where it is located.

They declined to give any other details about their lives, except to say they work in the nutritional supplements business.

Asked whether they had recently been to any European state, the two said they had. In a 25-minute interview, they denied working for the Russian military intelligence service, saying they are in the fitness industry.

"We have repeatedly asked Russian Federation to account for what happened in Salisbury in March", he added. "I have seen nothing to suggest that has changed".

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John Glen, the Parliament member for Salisbury, offered a wry comment about the pair's visit to his town, tweeting: "Delighted to see that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were able to see the world-class attractions that Salisbury has to offer".

"There's the famous Salisbury cathedral, famous not just in Europe, but in the whole world".

Petrov and Boshirov spoke at length at how depressed and scared they have been after they found themselves in the spotlight, saying that the publicity has made their lives "a nightmare". Russian Federation has denied any involvement.

'Today - just as we have seen throughout - they have responded with obfuscation and lies'. Their first day in Salisbury was cut short, they said because of bad weather.

The interview "looks as though it was hurriedly thrown together in response to Putin's decision", said Mark Galeotti, senior researcher at the Prague-based Institute of International Relations and an expert on Russian security matters.

The suspects added that "muddy slush" from leftover snow prevented them from walking to Stonehenge too. "There is nothing unusual or criminal there, I assure you".

In their first interview since being named as suspects by the British government they said they are victims of a "fantastical coincidence" and would like an apology from the real poisoners.

They spent New Year's Eve in Switzerland and have been to Vienna, the pair said. A woman in a nearby town later died after her partner brought home a discarded counterfeit perfume bottle containing the poison.

"We walked around and enjoyed this English Gothic architecture", he said.

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