Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Russians accused by United Kingdom 'victims of coincidence'

Russians accused by United Kingdom 'victims of coincidence'

Last week, British police identified Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as the two prime suspects in the March poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The men's surprise public appearance Thursday came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russian authorities know the identities of the two men, but insisted that they are civilians and there is "nothing criminal" about them.

United Kingdom prosecutors say they have obtained a European arrest warrant for two Russians, identified as Alexander Petrov (R) and Ruslan Boshirov (L), blamed for the Salisbury attack. "We came to you for protection, but this is turning into some sort of interrogation", he said.

He added he was delighted that the Russians were able to see "the world class attractions Salisbury has to offer".

The two men surfaced a day after President Vladimir Putin said Russian Federation had located Petrov and Boshirov, but that there was nothing special or criminal about them.

CCTV footage of what appear to be the two walking in Salisbury on the day of the poisoning show little signs of slush or snow, as Max Seddon, Moscow correspondent for The Financial Times, pointed out on Twitter.

May spokeswoman Alison Donnelly told reporters Thursday the United Kingdom remains confident "These men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service who used a devastatingly toxic chemical weapon on the streets of our country".

The channel posted a 25-minute clip of the video in Russian on its website and said it plans to air more from the interview later.

Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia's state-funded RT, wrote on social media that she had met and interviewed two men called Petrov and Boshirov yesterday evening.

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'Today - just as we have seen throughout - they have responded with obfuscation and lies'.

According to the British version of the case, on March 4 former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal, convicted in Russian Federation of spying for Britain, and his daughter Yulia were affected by a Novichok class nerve agent in Salisbury.

United Kingdom authorities blamed two former Russian agents, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, for the murder.

They told state-controlled outlet RT News that they were in Salisbury, where Skripal and his daughter were poisoned, because their friends had recommended its "famous cathedral".

Boshirov also called on the United Kingdom to apologize for the allegations, claiming their lives had been "turned upside down".

Ofcom said in April that since the Salisbury attack they had observed "a significant increase in the number of programs on the RT service that we consider warrant investigation as potential breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code".

Boshirov did not react to the interviewer's request to show the pictures they took on that trip, only saying that he found Salisbury Cathedral "very attractive". "Maybe we did [approach] Skripal's house, but we don't know where is it located". "We didn't have it", Mr Boshirov said. "What do you have in common that you spend so much time together?" Police say the first visit was to stake out the town and the second to poison the Skripals.

They declined to give any other details about their lives, except to say they work in the nutritional supplements business.

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