Skripal suspects interview 'lies' and an 'insult' - Downing Street

DS    
     TV SENSATION The Novichok attack suspects have been interviewed by Russia Today

DS TV SENSATION The Novichok attack suspects have been interviewed by Russia Today

Two men accused by London of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal told Russian media on Thursday they visited the British city of Salisbury for tourist purposes and denied having anything to do with the murder attempt.

The two men surfaced a day after President Vladimir Putin said Russian Federation had located Petrov and Boshirov, but that there was nothing special or criminal about them.

"What were you doing there?"

"Our friends have been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town", Petrov said.

"It's famous for its 123-meter spire", he said, adding that its clock is also notable.

The two men's story, particularly their claim that they cut their visit short because of cold weather, and a light dusting of snow, was widely mocked by foreign correspondents in Moscow.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have been accused by the United Kingdom of attempting to murder a former spy with a rare nerve agent in Salisbury, England.

Moscow has refused to extradite the two men Britain suspects of killing Litvinenko, and one of them, Andrei Lugovoi, went on to become a Russian lawmaker. They also denied carrying the fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle in which investigators say the Novichok was transported.

"And you see what's happening now with these two characters produced in this satirical way by Putin on Russian TV, asked these ludicrously patsy questions, making a mockery of the whole thing". Simonyan said they refused to elaborate on their backgrounds or show their passports on camera.

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President Vladimir Putin said the men had been discounted as members of his security network. British intelligence services say the names are likely aliases, used for a mission in which they failed to kill Skripal.

"We have repeatedly asked Russian to explain what happened in March, and they have replied with obfuscation and lies", the official said.

But yesterday the pair sensationally claimed in a farcical TV interview that they were simply in Britain on holiday, and travelled to Salisbury to look at the cathedral and Stonehenge.

"They are believed to have taken a similar route when they returned to London on the afternoon of Saturday, 3 March". The interview will air later on Thursday, she wrote. "Therefore it can not say: "Sorry, we made a bad mistake here". Putin called them civilians and said there is "nothing criminal" about them.

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.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said at the weekend that the pair are likely to stay in Russian Federation forever as they will be caught the moment they set foot outside. We know who they are, we found them.

The Skripal case has been likened by British politicians to the murder of Russian dissident ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope in a London hotel in 2006.

The accusation that they are part of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, was "the scariest thing" about the incident, Petrov said, according to the translation by RT.

However, a European Arrest Warrant has been obtained in case they travel to the EU, and UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has warned that the men will be caught and prosecuted if they ever step out of Russian Federation.

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