Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Merle Christensen

Russia: UK's novichok interview allegations 'absurd'

Russia: UK's novichok interview allegations 'absurd'

The Kremlin added that if Britain was to make a request to interview the two men, it would consider it. In the "absurd" interview the men even admitted they may have ended up at Sergei Skripal's suburban home "by accident" while looking for the cathedral, which has a 400ft spire.

In Thursday's interview (Friday NZ time) with the Kremlin-funded RT channel, the suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, said they were simply tourists catching the sights in Salisbury about the same time as the attack. "We didn't have it", Mr Boshirov said. "But very unusual to come all this way for just two days while carrying Novichok in their luggage", tweeted John Glen, the Member of Parliament for Salisbury who is also a government minister.

He bristled when Simonyan asked why the two men spent so much time together.

If they were in Salisbury on a tourist visit they didn't stay long.

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 Russian government has denied involvement in the poisoning.

"Unlike the murderers of Litvinenko", wrote Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the USA think-tank Atlantic Council, "these two men are sent through the meat grinders".

When asked if they were carrying Novichok with them, both Petrov and Boshirov laughed it off. The UK pinned the blame on Russia for the incident, with Prime Minister Theresa May claiming that Petrov and Boshirov were members of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence service.

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British investigators say the poison was transported in a fake perfume bottle.

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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.

The told RT that they were only in Salisbury for tourism, and wanted to see the cathedral, its clock, and nearby Stonehenge.

An except of the full interview was shown on RT News on Thursday morning, and an additional transcript can be seen here. "They said they would not go to the studio and only agreed to do the interview in her office".

But they told the Kremlin-backed RT network that the objective of their 6,000-mile, three-day trip from Moscow was to visit the "wonderful town", its fine cathedral and other historic sites such as the ancient stone circle at Stonehenge and the prehistoric settlement site of Old Sarum. So, he said, they made a decision to take the train back to Salisbury the following day. The Skripals were found collapsed on a park bench at 4:15 p.m. The two Russians entered the United Kingdom on an Aeroflot flight on March 2, departing March 4. According to them, they are businessmen not linked with the GRU and have nothing to do with the Skripal case.

"They then travelled on London public transport to Waterloo station and were in the area between approximately 6pm and 7pm".

The Russian journalist nevertheless failed to expand on Ms Wark's question as to why traces of Novichok were discovered within the suspects' east London hotel room.

"We lasted for only half an hour because it was covered in snow", Petrov said.

London believes that Putin personally sanctioned the attack.

"We assess that this trip was for reconnaissance of the Salisbury area and do not believe that there was any risk to the public from their movements on this day".

The took the same journey again Sunday. Ten minutes later, another camera found them walking in the direction of Skripal's house - the opposite direction from the cathedral. However, Russia does not extradite its own citizens and, like with Litvinenko's alleged killers, there is little chance they will ever face justice.

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