Russians accused by United Kingdom 'victims of coincidence'

Tabitha Dunn
September 14, 2018

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who were formally accused of attempting to murder former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, are seen in this image handed out by the Metropolitan Police in London.

Their interviewer did not ask them to account for Novichok traces which British police said were found in their hotel room.

The men denied having any poison or the counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle that United Kingdom police say was used to transport the nerve agent.

The men said they visited the southern English city of Salisbury in March, calling it a "wonderful town" and saying they wanted to see the famous Salisbury Cathedral.

"They are wanted men and we have taken all steps to ensure they are apprehended and brought to justice in the United Kingdom if they ever again step foot outside Russian Federation". "There's the famous Salisbury cathedral, famous not only in Europe but in the whole world, it's famous for its 123m spire, it's famous for its clock, one of the first ever created in the world that's still working".

Petrov said he heard Putin's statement on the radio and made a decision to contact RT's editor-in-chief.

Russian hit men or tourists?

And British journalists have been mocking the story on Twitter, highlighting the improbability of the pair's itinerary and route if they were truly tourists.

The Russian government has denied involvement in the poisoning.

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The weather was better the next day, when the two were caught on camera at the Salisbury rail station at 11.48am. She said they were the "real" Petrov and Boshirov as far as she was able to check.

A Foreign Office spokesman said that the two men had been identified as the prime suspects and it is clear they are GRU officers who "used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapons on the streets of our country".

"In short, it's the fitness industry, it is about sports nutrition, vitamins, proteins, microelements", the men explained. Boshirov also called on the United Kingdom to apologize for the allegations, claiming their lives had been "turned upside down".

"I have no doubt that Ofcom will look at it", said Mark Stephens, a senior member of the law firm Howard Kennedy, adding he expected the regulator would receive complaints about the interview. Police believe the perfume bottle had been specially adapted to carry the poison.

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 on Wednesday evening. So they returned the next day. RT ran part of the interview on Thursday morning, in which Petrov said: "We are those shown to you in the (CCTV) pictures". "They said they would not go to the studio and only agreed to do the interview in her office".

The men denied the allegations and said they visited Salisbury on March 3 for tourism but stayed for 30 minutes only.

Petrov said that on their first trip to Salisbury, they were unable to make it from the train station to the cathedral - about 800 meters - because of snow and slush. The Skripals were found collapsed on a park bench at 4:15 p.m.

"At 3pm on Friday, 2 March, the suspects arrived at Gatwick airport, having flown from Moscow on Aeroflot flight SU2588".

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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