Russians Accused Of Poisoning Ex-Spy In Britain Claim They Were Just Tourists

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Two Russian men accused of poisoning a former Russian double agent in England claimed Thursday they were just ordinary tourists and denied having anything to do with the attack.

In an interview with Russian news channel RT, the men, who said their names were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, said they had traveled to Salisbury, England, after friends told them to see the city’s famous cathedral.

“Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town,” Petrov said.

The men, who resemble pictures of the suspects released by British authorities on Sept. 5, confirmed they arrived in the England on March 2 and traveled to Salisbury the next day. But they didn’t stay in England for very long because the weather was bad, they claimed.

“We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere,” Petrov said.

Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, fell critically ill on March 4 after being exposed to Novichok, a highly lethal nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sergei Skripal had been living in Britain since 2010, when Moscow released him from prison in a swap for Russian spies.

Following the poisoning, British authorities said initial evidence pointed to a deliberate attack orchestrated by the Kremlin. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service identified Petrov and Boshirov on Sept. 5 as the suspected attackers and charged both with conspiracy to murder and possession of Novichok in violation of chemical weapons laws. (RELATED: Britain Names Two Russians As Suspects In Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack)

In their RT interview, the men denied trying to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter, saying their lives had been “turned upside down” in the wake of the allegations.

“We’re afraid of going out, we fear for ourselves, our lives and lives of our loved ones,” Boshirov said.

The men’s interview comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated previous denials of Russian state involvement in the Skripal incident. Putin said he had urged Petrov and Boshirov to come forward and tell their side of the story.

“There’s nothing special or criminal there,” Putin said Wednesday at an economic conference in Vladivostok, Russia, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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