Europe

UK slams 'deeply offensive' interview with Skripal poisoning suspects

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An interview on Russian state television by two men named as suspects in a nerve agent attack is "an insult", says a spokesman for the UK prime minister.

Britain has criticised a television interview with two Russians resembling men accused of trying to murder a former spy, saying it was "an insult to the public's intelligence" and "deeply offensive".

"The lies and blatant fabrications in this interview given to a Russian state-sponsored TV station are an insult to the public's intelligence," British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman told reporters.

"More importantly they are deeply offensive to the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack," he said.

"Sadly, it is what we have come to expect ... The police have set out very clearly the evidence against these two men.

"They are wanted men and we have taken all steps to ensure they are apprehended and brought to justice in the UK if they ever again step foot outside Russia."

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Analyst says Russian interview looks like it was directed by the Kremlin
Analyst says Russian interview looks like it was directed by the Kremlin

British prosecutors last week identified two Russians they said were operating under aliases - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - whom they accused of trying to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military-grade nerve agent in England.

The two Russians who appeared on state television said they had been wrongly accused of trying to murder the Skripals and said they had visited Salisbury in March for tourism.

The men had some physical similarities to the men shown in British police images.

"Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town," one of the men said of the English town of Salisbury in a short clip of the interview played by Russia's state-funded RT television station

They said they may have approached Sergei Skripal's house by chance but did not know where it was located. They had stayed less than hour in Salisbury, they said, because of bad weather.

"Well, we came there on March 2, then went to a railway station to see the timetable. We arrived in Salisbury on March 3 and tried to walk through the town, but we lasted for only half an hour because it was covered in snow.

"Of course, we went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it because there was muddy slush everywhere. The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back (to London)."

Two men denied they were military intelligence officers and said they felt they deserved an apology from the real perpetrators of the poisoning, if they were ever found.

They said they did not work for GRU, were ordinary businessmen, and the victim of what they called "a fantastical coincidence."

The duo surfaced a day after President Vladimir Putin said Russia had located Petrov and Boshirov, but that there was nothing special or criminal about them. He expressed hope they would come forward and speak publicly.

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Two Russians say Britian has mistaken them for Skripal poisoning
Two Russians say Britian has mistaken them for Skripal poisoning

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