Russians accused of poisoning ex-spy claim they were 'tourists'

Two Russians have appeared on state television, saying they had been wrongly accused by Britain of trying to murder a former Russian spy and his daughter in England and they had visited Salisbury in March for tourism.
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.
The two men who appeared on Russia's state-funded RT television station had some physical similarities to the men shown in British police images.
'Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town,' one of the men said of the English town of Salisbury in a short clip of the interview played by RT.
The UK government described the interview as 'lies and blatant fabrications'.
A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May said 'the lies and blatant fabrications in this interview given to a Russian state-sponsored TV station are an insult to the public's intelligence.'
'More importantly, they are deeply offensive to the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack. Sadly, it is what we have come to expect.'
It is understood the UK still believes the men are Russian military intelligent officers who tried to kill ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia earlier this year.
In the interview, the men said they may have approached Mr Skripal's house by chance but did not know where it was located. They had stayed less than hour in Salisbury, they said, because of bad weather.
'Well, we came there on March 2, then went to a railway station to see the timetable. 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.
'Of course, we went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it because there was muddy slush everywhere. The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back (to London).'
Two men denied they were military intelligence officers and said they felt they deserved an apology from the real perpetrators of the poisoning, if they were ever found.
Skripal - a former Russian military intelligence colonel who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service - and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in the English city of Salisbury in March. They spent weeks in hospital before being discharged.
The two men said they did not work for GRU, were ordinary businessmen, and the victim of what they called 'a fantastical coincidence.'
The duo surfaced a day after President Vladimir Putin said Russia had located Petrov and Boshirov, but that there was nothing special or criminal about them. He expressed hope they would come forward and speak publicly.
The affair returned to the headlines in July when a woman near Salisbury, Dawn Sturgess, died and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing the Novichok nerve agent and brought it home.
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