Does what the Skripal suspects said add up?

Two Russians resembling men Britain accuses of jetting to England to try to murder a former spy said on Thursday that they were innocent tourists who had flown to London for fun and visited the city of Salisbury to see its cathedral.

"What were you doing there?"

Petrov said: "Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town".

Speaking of the Salisbury cathedral, Petrov and Boshirov very precisely cited its height and provided facts about its medieval clock, as if reading them from Wikipedia.

The men raised eyebrows when they said they had been to the cathedral city twice in two days because heavy snow forced them to turn back on their first visit. The UK has described them as agents of Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service has charged the two men, who are alleged to be members of the Russian intelligence agency, with conspiracy to murder, among other charges.

The Center for European Reform tweeted that its director of foreign policy, Ian Bond, told the BBC that the interview could have meant to "cause confusion, put smoke out there to obscure the battlefield".

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any involvement.

In a translation from Russian, the pair told RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan they worked in the fitness industry.

Craig Murray, a former official who has faced criticism for pushing debunked conspiracy theories related to the poisoning, claimed on Twitter after the interview that the "most likely interpretation is that they are a gay couple..."

However, with the snowfall causing traffic disruptions on Saturday, the two men reportedly spent more than two and a half hours traveling from their London hotel to Salisbury train station.

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

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.

"The lies and blatant fabrications in this interview given to a Russian state-sponsored TV station are an insult to the public's intelligence", the spokesman said. They returned the next day to see the sights.

The British government says they're GRU officers who were ordered to carry out a high-profile assassination.

"I've travelled to the United Kingdom a few times and, to be honest, I had to look at a map", said Svetlana Melekhova, an HR specialist in Moscow who said she had participated in a language exchange in London. British officials say they know the real names of the pair.

"Is it not silly for decent lads to have women's perfume?". "I'll show you the spire!"

The pair were asked whether they had been in the vicinity of the Skripals' house, which is where police claim the suspects sprayed the Novichok. "Their passports match and the photos and the information from the British side shows it's these people", she said.

"RT is already under intense scrutiny and this is certainly not going to help matters", said John Enser, a partner in media law at CMS in London.

Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, called the interview "a piece of political theater".

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Friday that Russian authorities will consider Britain's request to interrogate them if it comes.

  • Kyle Peterson