Russian Poisoning Suspects: We Were Just Tourists

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RT is Russia's state-run worldwide broadcaster, and the pair were interviewed by its chief editor, Margarita Simonyan.

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.

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday described an interview of Skripal case suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with Russia's RT channel as an 'insult to the public's intelligence'.

"Salisbury?" their interviewer asked.

"The customs are checking everything", Boshirov said. It's famous not only in Europe, but in the whole world. "It's famous for its clock, one of the first ever created in the world that's still working", added Boshirov reeling off facts that closely resembled those laid out in a Russian-language Wikipedia entry about Salisbury. He wouldn't elaborate on how long it took the Russian authorities to find the two men, and said that the Kremlin had nothing to do with arranging their interview.

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. Russian Federation has repeatedly denied those claims.

So what were these two men really doing in Salisbury?

They said, however, that they were surprised at the pair's failure to come up with a credible alternative story to counter a British police dossier that pointed to their involvement and to muddy the waters, a known Russian military deception tactic known as maskirovka. But we can tell you that based on the livestream the video was not unedited. We're ordinary businessmen trying to make it in the fitness industry. "One goes, the other waits", Boshirov said.

The men, who appeared to be about 40, claimed they did not know who Skripal was or where he lived.

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"They explained everything simply and clearly yesterday, why they went there, what they were doing there, what the weather was like", he told AFP.

Two Russian men's claims that they were innocent tourists wrongly branded as would-be assassins met with mockery in Britain Friday and even raised eyebrows in the usually patriotic Russian media.

They say the objective of the men's visit to Salisbury on 3 March was reconnaissance, and on 4 March they returned to apply Novichok to the Skripals' front door.

British police used surveillance camera footage from airports, transit stations, and elsewhere to outline the pair's movements. Prosecutors say the Skripals came into contact with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent.

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

Tests on the east London hotel room where the suspects had stayed showed contamination of Novichok.

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. Leaving Salisbury at approximately 4.10pm and arriving in Bow at approximately 8.05 pm.

In the men's first interview since they were named publicly they denied carrying women's perfume, after police discovered a counterfeit bottle that contained a "significant amount" of Novichok. "Maybe we did [approach] Skripal's house but we don't know where it's located".

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