Accused Russian Hit Men: We Were in Salisbury for Sightseeing, Not Poisoning

Anna Chapman is best known for hosting a long-running show mixing anti-US rhetoric with conspiracy theories and mysticism

ANTON NOSSIK WIKIMEDIA Anna Chapman is best known for hosting a long-running show mixing anti-US rhetoric with conspiracy theories and mysticism

After the Skripals were poisoned, Britain and more than two dozen other countries expelled a total of 150 Russians who were allegedly spies working under diplomatic cover.

"I think this is likely they will be found to be in breach of broadcasting code with regard to their failure to balance their coverage", Banister Dean said.

They confirmed they are the two men shown in CCTV pictures issued by the Metropolitan Police, saying they own the clothes they were pictured in and even bought their shoes in England.

The men seemed to be around 40 years old and wore nearly identical dark blue jumpers. He called on them to contact the media. Relations between London and the Kremlin, already frosty, plunged into crisis after the attack.

Skripal's attempted assassination has drawn comparisons with the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko with highly radioactive polonium in London in 2006.

Now, the two men have appeared on Russian TV in an freaky interview that included their denials - but also indirect questions about their sexual preferences, awkward stares and accounts of the weather in the quaint English town of Salisbury in early March 2017.

Asked about the RT interview, Downing St declined to give any new comment.

The men, who appeared to be about 40, claimed they did not know who Mr Skripal was or where he lived. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May rallied support from allies for coordinated expulsions of more than 150 Russian diplomats, prompting tit-for-tat retaliation from Moscow.

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

At first, they had planned to stay in Salisbury for the whole day, but snowfall made them leave earlier than they had planned.

Attack: The suspects, believed to be travelling as Alexander Petrov (left) and Ruslan Boshirov.

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

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He went on: "Well, we went there on March 2, then went to a railway station to see the timetable. Today - just as we have seen throughout - they have responded with obfuscation and lies", the Foreign Office said in a statement.

That was when a former Russian double agent and his daughter were stricken by a military-grade nerve agent, Novichok, that almost killed them. They denied that they carried a bottle of women's perfume where British authorities found traces of Novichok.

"Is it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume?", RT quoted Boshirov as saying in remarks translated into English.

"The customs are checking everything".

The interview comes a day after President Vladimir Putin said the two men were not criminals, reversing his government's previous claims that the names given by London were meaningless.

The pair said they had travelled to Europe quite a lot for holidays and for business.

The pair complained their lives had become a "nightmare" and they could no longer watch the news and urged journalists to leave them alone.

"We're afraid of going out, we fear for ourselves, our lives and lives of our loved ones", Boshirov said.

"This is not an interrogation", Boshirov said.

At one point their interviewer turned on an air conditioning unit because she noted they were sweating.

When answering a direct question if they were GRU operatives, both Petrov and Boshirov replied with an emphatic NO.

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