Russians claiming to be Salisbury suspects say they were just tourists

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Britain last week charged Boshirov and Petrov in absentia, alleging they were agents of Russia's military intelligence agency known as the GRU who were dispatched to Salisbury, about 2 hours' drive southwest of London, to poison former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the nerve agent Novichok.

The Kremlin said that were Britain to ask to quiz Alexander Petrov and Rushlan Boshirov, Moscow would consider it.

"What were you doing there?"

"They have a famous cathedral there", Boshirov said, adding studiously: "It is famous for its 123-meter spire".

If the pair really were sight-seeing tourists, they made quick work of it, arriving in London from Moscow on a Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday night - after two visits to Salisbury.

British officials say they have identified the men as officers from Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU.

Asked what could persuade London of the pair's innocence, he responded: "I can't see anything which could really change the British government's attitude and its conviction that these two men were perpetrators, that they were the ones who brought Novichok into the country".

They claimed to have had nothing to do with the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were found slumped on a bench as the Russians were on a train back to London.

The U.S., France, Canada and Germany said they had "full confidence" in the U.K.'s assessment that the two suspects were Russian agents and that the operation "was with the greatest probability approved at high levels of the government".

The nerve agent was in a perfume bottle that Rowley found in a charity bin and gave to Sturgess, police said.

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"We were just taking in the English gothic [style]", Boshirov said.

He called on them to contact the media. British intelligence services say the names are likely aliases, used for a mission in which they failed to kill Skripal.

"They had stayed less than hour in Salisbury, they said, because of bad weather", reports The Moscow Times.

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 lovely".

When asked about the nerve agent Novichok, they emphatically denied carrying it, or the modified Nina Ricci perfume bottle, which United Kingdom investigators say contained the substance.

"CCTV shows them in the vicinity of Mr Skripal's house and we believe that they contaminated the front door with Novichok".

The regulator said Thursday's interview had not yet triggered any new complaints but industry experts said the network had taken a big risk by airing the interview. "Therefore it can not say: "Sorry, we made a awful mistake here". While they may have passed the former agent Sergey Skripal's home, "we don't know where it's located", Boshirov said.

Security experts told The National that they had anticipated the pair would make a public appearance after comments by Russian president Vladimir Putin earlier this week suggesting that they might soon tell their story.

In 2006, two Russians allegedly poisoned former spy Alexander Litvinenko in the British capital.

The journey was part of their holiday, they said, though they had also been in Europe to do business related to sports nutrition.

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