Skripal suspects claim they were tourists

Former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi turned his newfound fame into a political career

The men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told the Kremlin-financed network Russia Today that they had traveled from Moscow to the English provincial city of Salisbury in March to visit its ancient cathedral, not to assassinate Sergei Skripal, a former double agent who sold secrets to Britain.

RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said the pair had called her mobile because they wanted to tell their story.

"Friends have been telling us for a long time we should visit this lovely city", said the broad-shouldered Petrov.

The suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, said they were simply tourists catching the sights in Salisbury.

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

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - whom they accused of trying to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a military-grade nerve agent in 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. "We got wet, took the nearest train and came back to London".

The two men admitted they may have passed Mr Skripal's house by chance "but we don't know where it is located", Mr Petrov said. He called on them to contact the media.

Speaking at an economic forum in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, Mr Putin denied British allegations that they work for the GRU military intelligence service, insisting that they were in fact "civilians".

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Two men said they travelled to Europe, including several times to Switzerland, looking for new products such as amino acids, vitamins and microelements. "I have seen nothing to suggest that has changed".

The officials also allege that the pair are military intelligence agents who were sent to the United Kingdom to poison the Skripals with the nerve agent Novichok. We planned a vacation in London, and went to Salisbury to see the cathedral, Old Sarum, and Stonehenge, but on March 3 there was heavy snowfall, so we couldn't get around town easily.

When asked to reveal personal details about themselves or explain why they were sharing a hotel room or taking trips together, Boshirov said: "Let's not pry into our private lives".

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the interview was "an insult to the public's intelligence" and "deeply offensive" to the victims of the attack. "Yes they are our real names". They appear somewhat uncomfortable in the interview, in which they often sighed in frustration and repeatedly gave long stares.

"From the very start we planned to go to London and, put bluntly, cut loose and have some fun", he said in the interview which was pre-recorded on Wednesday and broadcast on Thursday.

"We spent no more than an hour in Salisbury, mainly because of the lags between trains".

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. He laughed off as "silly" the idea that they would have carried a women's perfume bottle.

The two men said they had visited England purely to see tourist sites such as Stonehenge.

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