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Skripal suspects: 'We were just tourists in Salisbury'

Culled from BBC

Two men named as suspects in the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in the UK claim they were merely tourists, BBC reported.

The men, named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told the RT channel that they went sightseeing in Salisbury but returned to London within an hour.

They are accused by the UK of trying to kill Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

The UK has described them as agents of Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU.

"The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back" to London, they told RT, Russia's state-run international broadcaster.

The UK's Crown Prosecution Service has said there is enough evidence to charge the men, who are understood to have travelled to London from Moscow on 2 March on Russian passports.

Two days later, police say, they sprayed the military-grade nerve agent Novichok on the front door of Mr Skripal's home in the Wiltshire city of Salisbury, before travelling home to Russia later that day.

On Wednesday President Vladimir Putin said "there is nothing criminal about them". He called them "civilians".

Mr Skripal and his daughter fell critically ill but recovered after weeks of intensive care in hospital. Their current whereabouts are being kept secret.

UK police are linking the attack to a separate Novichok poisoning on 30 June, when Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fell ill at a house in Amesbury, about 13km (eight miles) away.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital on 8 July.

In the RT interview the men confirmed their names as those announced by the UK investigators -

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. "Those are our real names," they said.

But they denied the allegation that they were GRU agents - instead they said they were in the fitness industry.

"Maybe we did [approach] Skripal's house, but we don't know where is it located," Mr Boshirov said.

Sergei Skripal (right) and his daughter Yulia - their current whereabouts are being kept secret

When RT's Margarita Simonyan asked them about Novichok they emphatically denied having had the nerve agent with them, and denied carrying the modified Nina Ricci perfume bottle which, UK investigators say, contained the substance.

"Is 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," Mr Boshirov said.

Mr Petrov said friends had recommended Salisbury to them because "there's the famous Salisbury cathedral, famous for its 123-metre spire".

My view: Are these men for real?, I don't think so and I don't believe they were tourists. Their alibi is so flimsy, their answers appear rehearsed, and they're not credible.