MOSCOW, October 1. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has derided the Guardian’s publication about "a team of consultants" "brought in to try to ‘rebrand’ Salisbury as it attempts to recover from the novichok poisonings."
"Bearing in mind that this this information leak comes from The Guardian, one may think that some experts on improving the image of British cities have taken the job," she wrote on Facebook, adding that a "Novichok City" may appear on maps in the near future.
According to the Guardian, "footfall is down almost 14% on 2017 and attractions including the cathedral, Salisbury museum and Playhouse theatre are all reporting declines in visitor numbers." "The consultants are to be asked to look into ways of changing people’s perceptions of the city to reverse a drop in visitor numbers," the newspaper added.
According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such a substance.
On September 5, British Prime Minister Theresa May informed the country’s parliament about the conclusions that investigators looking into the Salisbury incident had come to, saying that two Russians, believed to be GRU agents, were suspected of conspiracy to murder the Skripals. According to May, the assassination attempt was approved at "a senior level of the Russian state."
The Metropolitan Police published the suspects’ photos, saying their names were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
In an interview with Russia’s RT TV channel released on September 13, Petrov and Boshirov said they had visited Great Britain for tourist purposes. According to them, they are businessmen not linked to the GRU and have nothing to do with the Skripal case.