RT's interview with Salisbury suspects raises stakes in UK

     TV SENSATION The Novichok attack suspects have been interviewed by Russia Today

Two Russians resembling men Britain accuses of jetting to England to try 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.

In an interview with RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, the two men displayed a detailed knowledge of Salisbury cathedral, noting its 123-meter spire and clock, the "first of its kind anywhere in the world".

"What were you doing there?"

The Russian nationals say their friends recommended them to visit Salisbury and "enjoy its Gothic architecture". For tourists coming from Russian Federation to the United Kingdom, the delights of Salisbury's ancient cathedral, its 123-metre tall spire, 14th century working clock and well-preserved Magna Carta are, at best, a side-trip on the way to Stonehenge.

"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".

The men who said their real names were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov said they'd been tourists visiting the English city of Salisbury, where the poisoning took place, to see its cathedral.

He wouldn't elaborate on how long it took the Russian authorities to find the two men, and said that the Kremlin had nothing to do with arranging their interview.

Its investigations into RT relate to the requirement that United Kingdom broadcasters commit to "due impartiality".

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.

They had been for lunch at a restaurant in central Salisbury on 4 March when they were found "in an extremely serious condition" on a bench outside the restaurant.

Russian state media have tacitly promoted another reason for a cover-up, speculating heavily on whether the two men were being furtive about their trip because they are gay.

"Well, we came there on March 2, then went to a railway station to see the timetable".

The men said they're partners in a business importing sports-nutrition supplements from Europe.

British officials have called this explanation "risible", saying it is "clear" the men are Russian intelligence officers, according to the Guardian.

Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov spoke with the government TV station RT in their first public appearance since they were named as suspects.

"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 two men told RT their lives had been "turned upside down" by the allegations.

The Zizzi Restaurant in Salisbury where Skripal and his daughter ate on the day they were poisoned.

The men are civilians and "we know who they are", Putin told an economic forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday in his first comments on the United Kingdom allegations. They denied that they carried a bottle of perfume, in which British officials found signs of Novichok. But we can tell you that based on the livestream the video was not unedited.

They are thought to have been using the names as aliases and are about 40.

She said the new sanctions will include banking sanctions, a broader ban on Russian procurement of defense articles, and a block on any foreign aid.

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