Two Russians accused of a nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom have told Russian TV that they visited the city where the assault took place to see its historic cathedral, and not to poison a former spy.
This week, the two men appeared on RT to assert their innocence and claimed they were visiting the small town of Salisbury not to expose Skripal to the nerve agent Novichok, but to check out a cathedral.
"Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town", Petrov added. A Russian firm selling airline tickets is now advertising trips to Salisbury, saying the town's cathedral is a sight worth traveling all the way from Moscow to see.
The Member of Parliament for Salisbury, John Glen, said the interview made by the suspects to RT is "not credible" and "does not match intelligence we have on the individuals", Sky News reported. Simonyan tweeted in Russian earlier that Petrov and Boshirov had "refused to give interviews to anyone else, not even our journalists, as they said, they know me on the air and read my social networks and therefore, again they said they trust me".
Replying to the interviewer's question why the pair went to Salisbury for two days in a row, Boshirov said that when they first got to the town it was snowy and they got wet so they chose to take the train back. "We'll see in the near future".
Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any involvement. The men denied having any poison or the counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle that United Kingdom police say was used to transport the weapons-grade nerve agent. "These are civilians", he said this week.
Britain said Boshirov and Petrov are military intelligence agents who were dispatched to Salisbury to poison former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
"The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service - the GRU - who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country", the statement said.
Chris Phillips, the former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office said: "We trust those countries to do things the right way".
He tweeted that he was "delighted" the men were able to visit Salisbury's "world-class attractions", but said it was "very odd to come all this way for just two days while carrying Novichok in their luggage". "Don't you think it's silly for straight men to have women's perfume with them?"
The Skripal case has been likened by British politicians to the murder of Russian dissident ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope in a London hotel in 2006.
British officials dismissed their claims and said they stood by allegations that the poison attack was approved at the highest levels of the Russian government.
They spent weeks in hospital before being discharged.
"When your life turned upside down, you don't know what to do and where to go", Boshirov said. They then went straight to the airport and flew home, hours after the Skripals were found unconscious on a bench.