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13 September 2018, 08:29 | Myron Mathis
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In an interview with RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, two men who identified themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirovsaid they had nothing to do with the poisoning of the Skripals, saying they had reached out to RT to tell their side of the story.
When Simonyan seemed to express some surprise at this characterization of an English city that is not well-known overseas, Boshirov answered simply "Yes". "Its famous Salisbury cathedral, famous for its 123m spire...the clock... the oldest of its kind that is still working". Those details are not common knowledge for most Britons, but they are available on the Wikipedia page of the cathedral.
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, whom the United Kingdom accuse of trying to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a nerve agent in Salisbury, appeared on Russian television, saying they were in the English town as tourists. They were, they insisted, involved in the import of supplements and other items of interest to sports nutritionists.
They confirmed that they were the men in CCTV images released by British police last week showing two men in their 40s.
"Is it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume?", RT quoted Boshirov as saying in remarks translated into English.
Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are our real names. "All footage features you two together", she told them.
A European arrest warrant has been issued for the two suspects, but British prosecutors say they will not ask Moscow to extradite Russian citizens because Russia's constitution forbids it. "We were just taking in the English gothic", Boshirov said.
"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". They returned the next day to see the sights. "Today - just as we have seen throughout - they have responded with obfuscation and lies".
They said they "got wet, took the nearest train and came back" to London. Simonyan tweeted in Russian earlier that Petrov and Boshirov had "refused to give interviews to anyone else, not even our journalists, as they said, they know me on the air and read my social networks and therefore, again they said they trust me".
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".
"Our friends have been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town", Petrov said.
Questioned on whether the pair were civilians, Mr Putin replied: 'Of course they are civilians'. They then went straight to the airport and flew home, hours after the Skripals were found unconscious on a bench.
"Maybe we did [approach] Skripal's house", Boshirov added, "but we don't know where is it located".
"We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it because there was muddy slush everywhere", Petrov said, referring to local landmarks.
He expressed hope they would come forward and speak publicly. Before all this, we had no idea who Sergey Skripal is.
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