Russians charged in poisoning say they visited United Kingdom as tourists

Novichok suspects. Pic Russia Today

Novichok suspects. Pic Russia Today

The two men denied having Novichok or any poison with them.

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The two men said they did not work for GRU, were ordinary businessmen, and were the victims of what they called "a fantastical coincidence".

"Our friends have been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town", Petrov said while Boshirov added that they wanted to see the Cathedral's famous spire and clock.

The two Russian men charged in Britain with poisoning a former Russian spy with a deadly nerve agent appeared on Russian television on Thursday, saying they visited the suspected crime scene as tourists.

Skripal, a former Russian double agent, was poisoned along with his daughter in central Salisbury in March.

Britain has said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence officers nearly certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.

The pair said they may have approached the Skripal's house, but were not aware where it is located.

"We're afraid of going out, we fear for ourselves, our lives and lives of our loved ones", Boshirov said.

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"But the Petrov/Borishov statements are not credible and don't match the widely accepted intelligence we have on these individuals".

"Delighted that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov were able to see the world-class attractions that #Salisbury has to offer".

A Foreign Office spokesman said that the two men had been identified as the prime suspects and it is clear they are GRU officers who "used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapons on the streets of our country".

"We have repeatedly asked Russian Federation to account for what happened in Salisbury in March", it said.

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

The TV interview came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia had identified the pair and found no evidence of criminal activities.

Asked whether they had recently been to any European state, the two said they had.

The affair returned to the headlines in July when a woman near Salisbury, Dawn Sturgess, died and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after Mr Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing the Novichok nerve agent and brought it home.

In the men's first interview since they were named publicly they denied carrying women's perfume.

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