Russians Accused in UK Poisoning: 'Coincidence' They Were in Salisbury

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Russians Accused in UK Poisoning: 'Coincidence' They Were in Salisbury

Petrov and Boshirov claim to have been visiting the "wonderful town" of Salisbury, England, to see its famous cathedral.

"Salisbury?" their interviewer asked. "One goes, the other waits", Boshirov said.

They told state-controlled outlet RT News that they were in Salisbury, where Skripal and his daughter were poisoned, because their friends had recommended its "famous cathedral". Putin called them civilians and said there is "nothing criminal" about them.

Sources say the conclusion that the men were GRU officers was based on intelligence about Russian operatives and further inquiries made after the March attack on the Skripals. But they denied any involvement with the poisoning.

Last week, Britain announced charges against the two men.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were labelled by the British authorities as Russian military intelligence agents, but how they actually earn money is apparently much less exiting.

Britain said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence (GRU) officers nearly certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.

Skripal, who was jailed in Russian Federation for betraying dozens of military intelligence officers in the 1990s, came to Britain in a 2010 spy swap.

When pressed to describe their work in general terms, he said, "To cut a long story short, we're in the fitness industry".

The men say that their lives have been "turned upside down" by the allegations and want an apology.

British officials decried the interview, calling it "risible".

Skripal, his daughter, and a police officer were left gravely ill by exposure to Novichok in March.

They strongly denied that in their luggage they had a Nina Ricci perfume bottle, which, according to the investigation, they had used as a container for the nerve agent reportedly used for poisoning in Salisbury. He laughed off as "silly" the idea that they would have carried a women's perfume bottle.

The two accused men spoke on camera for almost 30 minutes, rarely smiling as they discussed their actions with RT's Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan.

CCTV footage shows Petrov and Boshirov, who traveled on Russian passports and were previously believed to have used aliases, arriving in the United Kingdom on Friday evening on an Aeroflot flight into London's Gatwick airport. In the "absurd" interview the men even admitted they may have ended up at Sergei Skripal's suburban home "by accident" while looking for the cathedral, which has a 400ft spire.

He tweeted that he was "delighted" the men were able to visit Salisbury's "world-class attractions", but said it was "very unusual to come all this way for just two days while carrying Novichok in their luggage". They also said that their visit, at the time of the attack, was "an incredible, fatal coincidence".

They again were recorded in the center of town an hour later and were at the station by 1:50 p.m., two hours after arriving.

They said that they had previously travelled to Europe for business and pleasure.

"They then travelled on London public transport to Waterloo station and were in the area between approximately 6pm and 7pm".

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

They had been for lunch at a restaurant in central Salisbury on 4 March when they were found "in an extremely serious condition" on a bench outside the restaurant.

"They are believed to have taken a similar route when they returned to London on the afternoon of Saturday, 3 March".

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