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UK’s Skripal case ‘suspects’ say they are fitness industry businessmen not linked to GRU

Petrov and Boshirov explained that they had visited Salisbury as tourists
Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov RT channel video via AP
Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov
© RT channel video via AP

MOSCOW, September 13. /TASS/. The two Russians London suspects of being involved in the Skripal affair - Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - have told Russia’s RT television channel in an interview they are businessmen in the fitness industry and not GRU agents, contrary to Britain’s claims.

When answering a direct question if they were GRU operatives, both Petrov and Boshirov replied with an emphatic NO. Also, they said they had never heard anything about former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal until the moment of his alleged poisoning.

"We have a medium-sized business. If we go into further detail, our partners’ interests may suffer. We do not wish to do that. In a word, we are in the fitness industry - everything that concerns sports nutrition: vitamins, microelements, proteins and weight gainers," Petrov said.

Concerning an article in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph saying that during period of September 2016 - March 2018 the suspects made nearly 30 trips to Europe, frequently to Geneva, both said they were studying the European market of bio-supplements and vitamins. As for visits to Switzerland, they traveled to that country mostly for leisure.

"We do not always travel on business. We did go there on business occasionally, too, but that was a while ago," Petrov specified.

They strongly denied that in their luggage they had a Nina Ricci perfume bottle, which, according to the investigation, they had used as a container for the nerve agent reportedly used for poisoning in Salisbury.

"Doesn’t it look silly for straight guys to carry women’s perfume in their luggage? When you go through the customs you have your luggage checked. If we had anything like that, this certainly would have raised some questions as to why a man has women’s perfume in his luggage," Boshirov stressed.

The two men explained that they had visited Salisbury as tourists

"Our friends have continuously suggested that we visit this wonderful place. It’s a tourist must. The cathedral there is known everywhere throughout Europe and the world over," he added.

At first, they had planned to stay in Salisbury for the whole day, but snowfall made them leave earlier than they had planned.

"We arrived in Salisbury and tried to take a stroll around the city, but there was snow everywhere and we put up with it for not longer than half an hour," Petrov recalls. 

"Not a single mass media outlet, not a single TV channel has ever shown any pictures confirming that on that day, March 3, there was a real snow disaster," Boshirov added

"From the very beginning we planned to go to London to enjoy ourselves. It was not a business trip. We’d made plans for staying in London for a while and for visiting Salisbury," said Petrov.

Their original intention was to tour England, but bad weather upset their plans.

"We’d hoped to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, and the Salisbury Cathedral," Petrov added.

Skripal case

On September 5, British Prime Minister Theresa May briefed parliament on the progress of the investigation into the Salisbury incident, saying that two Russians were suspected of an attempt on the lives of the Skripals and that British special services suspected they were GRU agents. 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.

According to the British version of the case, on March 4 former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal, convicted in Russia of spying for Britain, and his daughter Yulia were affected by a Novichok class nerve agent in Salisbury. London argued that Moscow was ‘highly likely’ to be involved in the incident. Russia strongly dismissed all speculation on that score, saying that no programs for developing such chemicals had ever existed in the Soviet Union or Russia.