Downing Street has accused Russia of “lies and blatant fabrications” in the television interview with the two suspects in the Salisbury poisoning, calling it an insult to the public’s intelligence” and “offensive” to the families of those who died and were harmed.
Two suspects in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter have told Russian state TV they visited Salisbury merely “as tourists”.
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov told the Kremlin-funded RT channel that they wanted to visit the “wonderful town” of Salisbury and see its famous cathedral on the recommendation of their friends.
They denied having any Novichok, a deadly Soviet-developed nerve agent, in their possession.
When asked by RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan whether they also had a counterfeit bottle of designer perfume UK police said contained the nerve agent, Borishov said: “Isn’t it silly for decent lads to have women’s perfume? The customs are checking everything, they would have questions as to why men have women’s perfume in their luggage. We didn’t have it.”
The pair also said they had travelled to the area to see “Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere.
“The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back [to London].”
Petrov said they arrived in the UK on 2 March, then travelled to a railway station to “see the timetable”.
“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.”
The second suspect, Ruslan Boshirov, said: “We spent no more than an hour in Salisbury, mainly because of the lags between trains. Maybe we did [approach] Skripal’s house, but we don’t know where is it located.”
Russia has hotly contested the allegations and on Wednesday Putin escalated the war of words by saying Russian officials “know who these people are” but denied the men were members of military intelligence.
He called on the two men to contact the media and “tell about themselves” - which they then duly did.