World: Russians in UK spy case say they wanted to see cathedral, Britain calls it lies
Moscow, September 13, 2018,(AltAfrica) – Two Russians resembling men Britain accuses of jetting to England to murder a former spy said on Thursday that they were innocent tourists who had flown to London for fun and visited the city of Salisbury to see its cathedral.
Britain said it was clear the two men, who appeared on Russia’s state-funded RT television, were agents of Russia’s GRU military intelligence who carried out the attack, and their interview an example of Russia’s “obfuscation and lies”.
The two men, who appeared deeply uncomfortable, identified themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the names British prosecutors said were used by the poisoners. They said they had fallen victim to a “fantastical coincidence”.
Britain has charged the two men with attempting to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia by spraying a chemical weapon on Skripal’s door in March.
The Skripals and a police officer fell seriously ill. A woman in a nearby town later died after her partner brought home a discarded counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle containing the poison.
The two men, both wearing blue jumpers, said they were civilians in the sports nutrition business.
“Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town,” Petrov said of Salisbury.
“There’s the famous Salisbury cathedral. It’s famous not only in Europe, but in the whole world. It’s famous for its 123 metre-spire. It’s famous for its clock, one of the first ever created in the world that’s still working,” added Boshirov.
Asked about the interview, a British government spokeswoman said: “The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service — the GRU — who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country.”
“We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March. Today — just as we have seen throughout — they have responded with obfuscation and lies.”
Britain and dozens of other countries have kicked out scores of Russian diplomats over the incident, and Moscow has responded tit-for-tat in the biggest East-West wave of expulsions since the Cold War. The affair has worsened Russian relations with the West, already under strain over Ukraine, Syria and other issues.