Documents reveal Salisbury suspects have links to Russian defence ministry

Novichok suspects. Pic Russia Today

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who were formally accused of attempting to murder former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, are seen in this image handed out by the Metropolitan Police in London.

"Only this week, we heard an official statement from London, which said that they did not plan to employ the legal assistance mechanism and send any requests to Russian Federation".

"Alexander Petrov" and "Ruslan Boshirov" were ridiculed yesterday after claiming they visited the unlikely tourist destination on the recommendation of friends.

"Salisbury?" their interviewer asked.

"We examine the market, look if there is something new - some biologically active additives, amino acids, vitamins, microelements", the two said. Only this week, we heard an official statement from London, which said that they did not plan to employ the legal assistance mechanism and send any requests to Russian Federation.

They said they only stayed an hour in Salisbury on Saturday 3 March because of the snowy weather conditions, but returned on Sunday 4 March to visit the sights.

The UK believes the two to be operatives of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.

London's reaction to a recent interview of Russia's RT channel with two men suspected of poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is absurd, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. They claimed to be tourists who were visiting the city where the assault took place to see its historic cathedral and denied any involvement in the attack.

The two men's actual identities are a matter of dispute.

The men also denied that they are, as British Prime Minister Theresa May asserted last week, agents of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service Skripal had betrayed.

Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief, who conducted the interview, said on Twitter that "their answers are their responsibility" and it's up to viewers to decide whether to believe the men, who were "extremely nervous and sweating".

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Simonyan was mentioned 27 times in a report by United States intelligence agencies in January 2017 about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

When pressed to describe their work in general terms, he said, "To cut a long story short, we're in the fitness industry".

Boshirov said they "maybe approached Skripal's house" while they walked around the city, "but ... didn't know where it was".

British officials decried the interview, calling it "risible".

Skripal, his daughter, and a police officer were left gravely ill by exposure to Novichok in March.

The Skripals survived being poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok, but Dawn Sturgess - a woman not connected to the original attack - died in July after being exposed to the same substance.

The RT interview appeared to show that Russian Federation was not planning to deny the veracity of video evidence released by Scotland Yard, but to argue it had been misinterpreted. The reason, according to the men, is that they are afraid for their safety and reluctant to provide the press with any more "fuel".

"They demanded that only one camera run during the interview and refused to show their IDs", RT says of the interview carried out by Simonyan.

But instead of heading in the direction of the cathedral, they went the other way and were captured 10 minutes later near a Shell petrol garage on Wilton Road.

The two added that they had planned to visit London on their trip, but a snowstorm hindered their plans.

The men, who appeared to be about 40, claimed they did not know who Skripal was or where he lived.

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