MOSCOW — The two Russian men spun an unlikely tale of hapless tourists defeated by grim British weather: They traveled more than 1,000 miles to see England’s famed Salisbury Cathedral but were turned back by slush and snow, then returned the next day and spent two hours exploring the “beautiful” city.

British officials had a more sinister explanation: Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were highly trained military intelligence agents sent by the Kremlin to Salisbury to smear a deadly nerve agent on the front door of a former Russian spy.

Petrov and Boshirov, both charged in absentia by Britain last week for trying to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the nerve agent Novichok, went on the Kremlin-funded RT satellite channel Thursday to proclaim their innocence, deny they were agents of the military intelligence service widely known as the GRU, and say they were merely tourists in the city southwest of London.

“Our friends had been suggesting for quite a long time that we visit this wonderful city,” Petrov said in the interview.

“They have a famous cathedral there,” Boshirov said, adding studiously: “It is famous for its 123-meter spire.”

James Slack, spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May, derided their claims as “lies and blatant fabrications.”

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

Britain said the attack was almost certainly approved “at a senior level of the Russian state,” an allegation that Moscow has vehemently denied.

Skripal, a Russian military intelligence officer turned double agent for Britain, and his visiting daughter fell ill March 4 from what Britain says was a Soviet-developed nerve agent; an investigating police officer also was hospitalized for about three weeks. In June, two area residents who apparently came across a discarded vial that contained the poison fell ill, and …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

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