The so-called Skripals case related to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in a UK city in early March has taken a farcical turn.
A week after Britain named the two Russian suspects and showed CCTV images of them roaming Salibury before former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned, they told Russia Today (RT) news channel they were just tourists who visited Britain at the wrong time.
Looking nervous throughout a long interview, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, above, told RT’s Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan that their lives have been turned upside down by Britain’s stupid lies and Prime Minister Theresa May owes them an apology.
Addressing a packed Commons on Sept 5, May named and shamed the two and even pointed fingers at Russian President Vladimir Putin over Skripals’ poisoning.
A Downing Street spokesman on Thursday described the RT interview as “lies and blatant fabrications” and “an insult to the public’s intelligence.”
Instead of handing the two suspects to British authorities, Russian responded with contempt and the suspects’ statements in the TV interview were “deeply offensive to the victims” of the poisoning, the spokesman said.
Petrov and Boshirov told RT they are now scared to step out of their homes. They are embarrassed too because people think they are intelligence agents.
Asked why they went to Britain, the men said they wanted to visit the “wonderful town” of Salisbury famous for the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They also planned to visit Stonehenge located nearby.
But after arriving at the cathedral city on March 3 by train, they had to cancel their travel plans as bad weather halted transport services. They then decided to roam the city for some 30 minutes braving the snow. That was when the CCTV cameras captured their images, the two said.
Later, they spent some time in a coffee house near the railway station before boarding a train back to London.
On March 4, it was sunny and warm in London and they went back to Salisbury to visit Old Sarum and the cathedral.
When asked whether they smuggled in the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, allegedly used to poison the Skripals, in a fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle, Petrov and Boshirov said they were not fools to carry women’s perfume. Customs officials, during their checks at the airport, will question why they are carrying women’s perfume in their luggage. The two said they neither carried poison or perfume with them while entering Britain.
When reminded of the European arrest warrant obtained by Britain against them, Petrov and Boshirov said that has to be tackled since they are in the fitness business and often make trips to Europe to check new products related to sports goods, biologically active additives, vitamins and microelements.
The two declined to talk about their clients as they wanted to protect them in the current situation.
Asked whether they were the same people shown in the screenshots released by the Scotland Yard, the men said they were, adding that the clothes shown in the photos are hanging in their wardrobe.
To provoke them into telling more, Simonyan asked them why all CCTV images released by the police showed them walking together.
The men told her to respect their privacy. They came for help from the media and not to face an interrogation, the men said.
At the end of the interview, Simonyan asked the viewers to judge the “suspects” for themselves. She said she is not making any comments so as not to colour their views.