Thursday, 20 June, 2019


'Skripal suspects' tell Russian media they visited Britain as tourists

Salisbury Cathedral Salisbury Cathedral. Getty
Hannah Rogers | 13 September, 2018, 20:26

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.

"Our friends had been suggesting for a long time we visit this wonderful town".

When Simonyan seemed to express some surprise at this characterization of an English city that is not well-known overseas, Boshirov answered simply "Yes".

It's famous not only in Europe, but in the whole world. Boshirov added that the two wanted to see the "famous" cathedral's 132-meter spire and clock. Those details are not common knowledge for most Britons, but they are available on the Wikipedia page of the cathedral.

They are accused by the United Kingdom of trying to kill Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. "Isn't it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume?"

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov confirmed they are the men accused of carrying out the attack in the interview with RT.

A British government minister, who represents Salisbury, said on Twitter that the statements were not credible.

The Member of Parliament for Salisbury, John Glen, said the interview made by the suspects to RT is "not credible" and "does not match intelligence we have on the individuals", Sky News reported.

"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". A Russian firm selling airline tickets is now advertising trips to Salisbury, saying the town's cathedral is a sight worth traveling all the way from Moscow to see.

Asked about the interview, a British government spokeswoman said: "The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service - the GRU - who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country".

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.

Chris Phillips, the former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office said: "We trust those countries to do things the right way".

"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. They said they had fallen victim to a "fantastical coincidence".

Boshirov acknowledged the pair may have been near Mr Skripal's house, but claimed they did not know where it was.

Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia's state-funded RT, wrote on social media that she had met and interviewed two men called Petrov and Boshirov yesterday evening.

The men's surprise public appearance Thursday came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russian authorities know the identities of the two men, but insisted that they are civilians and there is "nothing criminal" about them.

Mr Skripal is a former GRU agent who secretly spied for Britain before being pardoned by the Kremlin and exchanged with among others - glamour agent Anna Chapman.

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