Russians charged in poisoning say they visited United Kingdom as tourists

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Scotland Yard published a series of photographs of the two men who, according to the investigation, were travelling around the country with passports issued in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

The two men, who appeared to be around 40, said they worked in the nutrient supplements business.

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

They claimed to have had nothing to do with the attack on Segrei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were poisoned when the pair were in Salisbury in March.

Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley fell ill after Rowley found a counterfeit bottle of Nina Ricci perfume containing Novichok and brought it home.

Boshirov and Petrov said they visited the southern English city of Salisbury in March, calling it a "wonderful town" and saying they wanted to see the famous Salisbury Cathedral. It's famous for its 123 metre-spire.

Confirming the timeline produced by police, they admitted they went to Salisbury on two days, to take in the sights of its famous cathedral and ancient clock.

"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", it said in a statement.

"We have repeatedly asked Russian Federation to account for what happened in Salisbury in March", he added. "Today - just as we have seen throughout - they have responded with obfuscation and lies", the Foreign Office said in a statement. Russian Federation kicked out a similar number of those countries' diplomatic envoys.

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The British government said the interview reflected more "obfuscation and lies" by Moscow. They complained that following London's allegations of their supposed involvement in the Skripal affair, the mass media kept them in the public eye so they feared for their security. They then went straight to the airport and flew home, hours after the Skripals were found unconscious on a bench. 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".

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

Two men suspected of targeting the Skripals with novichok have denied being Russian agents or having anything to do with the poisoning.

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

They said they may have approached Skripal's house by chance but did not know where it was located. The pair were also picked up by CCTV footage in the vicinity of the Skripal house on the day of the attack, March 4, which is in the opposite direction of the cathedral from the train station.

"We hope they will turn up very soon and will tell everything themselves".

"Isn't it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume?" one of the two men was quoted as saying by the Kremlin-funded RT.

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.

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