Two Russians suspected of poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have been ridiculed for having gone to Salisbury to visit "the beautiful city" as a tourist.
Identifying themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who were named as attempted murderers by British prosecutors, the men confirmed that they were in Salisbury before the scripts became seriously ill from the poisoning of Novichok.
Commenting on what British MPs called "ridiculous," Petrov told Russian broadcaster RT: "Yes, we are, our friends have long suggested that we visit this wonderful city."
"There is the famous Salisbury Cathedral, which is not only famous in Europe but all over the world, and is famous for its 123-meter-high spire, famous for its clock, one of the world's first to work." Mr. Boshirov.
Mr. Petrov claimed they were planning to visit Stonehenge, but due to the cold weather there was "muddy mud" everywhere … we got wet, took the next train and came back [to London]," he said.
"We arrived in Salisbury on March 3rd and tried to walk around town, but it only took us half an hour because it was covered in snow," he added.
Mr. Boshirov said they spent only an hour in the city adding, "Maybe we did [approach] Skripal's house, but we do not know where it is. "
The two men refused to be Russian agents, claiming that they worked in the sports nutrition business and had their lives "turned upside down" by the British investigation.
"When your life is turned upside down, you do not know what to do and where to go, we are scared of going out, afraid of ourselves, our lives, and the lives of loved ones," Boshirov said.
The two suspects were interviewed by Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT, the Kremlin-funded international media, who announced on Wednesday on Twitter that she had spent "one evening" with them.
When asked if she carried Nina Ricci's perfume bottle, which was proven to contain the nerve agent, Boshirov said, "Is not it silly that decent lads have women's perfumes? The customs authorities are checking everything.
"You would have questions why men have perfume in their luggage, we did not have it."
The couple admitted that the men are always CCTV images released by the government. We have these clothes, this jacket is hanging in my wardrobe, the shoes are being bought in England … These are the clothes we are wearing right now. "
"Are these clothes currently in Russia?" Asked Mrs. Simonyan. "Yes, of course we can show it."
The stories of the men were ridiculed today.
City Secretary John Glen, a member of Salisbury, wrote on Twitter that he was "pleased" that they had seen the sights of Salisbury and added, "But it's very strange to spend only two days with Novichok all day to spend."
"Salisbury welcomes tourists from all over the world and is very open to business, but the Petrov / Borishov statements are not credible and do not conform to the generally accepted information we have about these individuals."
Tom Tugendhat, conservative chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "The idea of Russians being turned away from the snow is ridiculous, which is the most miserable story and is simply an insult to the thorough dossier submitted by the PM on these two GRUs Officers. "
Ms. Simonyan wrote in Russian that reporters from the media had "blown up" her phone and asked how she had landed the interview and had responded that the suspects had visited her personally.
"Everyone knows my number," she said, claiming the two said they had seen her on TV and social media and "for that reason, in her words, trust me."
Critics pointed out that the interview comes on the day after Vladimir Putin. Russia had known the true identities of two defendants and claimed that they were only civilians and "nothing special … nothing criminal".
Putin spoke at an economic forum in the Russian port city of Vladivostok and asked Petrov and Boshirov to speak out and tell the world their story.
He said, "I hope they will show up and tell everything, that would be best for everyone."
British prosecutors identified two Russians last week who operated, as they said, with pseudonyms – Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – who, they said, had tried to assassinate the Skripals with a military nerve center in England.
British intelligence services have linked Mr. Petrov and Mr. Boshirov to Russian military intelligence, also known as GRU, who, according to Theresa May, was behind the attack.
In a statement, the Prime Minister said, "The GRU is a highly disciplined organization with a well-established chain of command, so this was not a rogue operation.
"It was also certainly approved outside the GRU at a high level of the Russian state."
The prosecution said last week that Petrov and Boshirov had been charged with conducting the Salisbury-Novichok poisoning.
The police said they believe the pair flew to Gatwick two days before the attack when they checked into the City Stay Hotel in Bow, East London.
They then traveled to Salisbury for a reconnaissance mission and the attack itself the following day.
They used a specially crafted fake Nina Ricci perfume bottle to smear the nerve knot on the door of Mr. Skripal's house, officials said.
They flew to Heathrow on the night of the scriptwriting of Moscow, according to British prosecutors.
Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said that both men traveled with real Russian passports and visited Britain before the trip to poison the scripts.
The pair is also linked to the separate Novichok poisoning on June 20, when Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley fell ill in Amesbury, about eight miles away. Ms. Sturgess died on July 8 at the hospital.