Sat, Sep 15, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Skripal suspects say they were just tourists

‘HORRIFIC ATTACK’:Downing Street called the RT interview with Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov ‘an insult to the public’s intelligence’ and ‘deeply offensive’

AFP, MOSCOW

Two men accused by London of poisoning former Moscow spy Sergei Skripal on Thursday denied involvement in the murder attempt in a bizarre Russian media interview that Britain dismissed as “an insult to the public’s intelligence.”

Speaking with the head of the Kremlin-backed RT news network, the pair confirmed they were the men whose pictures British authorities released this month, but insisted they were visiting the English city of Salisbury as tourists.

British security services had named the men as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, but said these were likely to be aliases.

In a 25-minute interview, the men said those were their real names, but insisted they did not work for Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, as Britain claims.

RT said the men sounded distressed and were sweating as they spoke.

Both appeared to be about 40 years old and they wore almost identical dark blue jumpers.

The men looked well-built and Boshirov wore what looked like a red Kabbalah bracelet.

The TV station recorded the interview on Wednesday evening, just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had identified the men sought by Britain and urged the pair to address the media.

“They are civilians,” Putin said, adding there was nothing criminal about them.

London believes Putin personally sanctioned the attack.

The US is planning a new set of “very severe” sanctions on Russia over its alleged use of the Novichok nerve agent in the March 4 poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, US Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh told a congressional hearing on Thursday.

She said Russia had until November to allow on-site inspections of facilities linked to the potent poison and to provide “verifiable” assurances that Novichok would not be used again.

Downing Street on Thursday called the RT interview “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’s what we’ve come to expect,” British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said.

Skripal and his daughter survived, but a British couple, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, came into contact with the same nerve agent in a town near Salisbury months later.

Sturgess died.

Petrov and Boshirov said they arrived in Britain on March 2 and traveled to Salisbury the next day to see the sights.

They left after no more than an hour because of poor weather and heavy snow, but returned to the city the next day — March 4, the day of the attack.

British authorities said the suspects traveled to Salisbury twice to prepare for the attack and then carry it out.

“Friends have been telling us for a long time we should visit this beautiful city,” Petrov said.

“We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere,” he added, referring to famous local landmarks.

Boshirov, sporting a goatee, denied the pair knew anything about Skripal or the location of his house.

“We walked around and enjoyed this English Gothic architecture,” he said.

This story has been viewed 1194 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top