Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov suspected by London of involvement in the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury confirmed Thursday that these were their real names and added that the UK authorities published their photos.
"We are those that had been showed [by the UK authorities]. Ruslan Bashirov. Alexander Petrov. Those are our real names," the two said, when asked to confirm whether their photos had been released by UK authorities.
Petrov and Boshirov said that they went to the UK city of Salisbury as tourists on friends' advice and spent there not more than an hour there.
"We arrived in Salisbury on [March] 3. … Of course, we went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn't do it because there was muddy slush everywhere. The town was covered by this slush. We got wet, took the nearest train and came back [to London]. … We spent no more than an hour in Salisbury, mainly because of the lags between trains," they said.
On Alleged Presence of Poisonous Substance
"No, it is nonsense," the two said, when asked whether they had any poisonous substance during their trip to the United Kingdom.
When asked whether they had a Nina Ricci perfume bottle, as claimed by UK authorities, they noted that it would be strange for two males to carry it around.
"Is it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume? The customs are checking everything, they would have questions as to why men have women's perfume in their luggage. We didn't have it," the two explained, confirming that they had no female perfume with them during the trip.
On Allegations of Working For Russian Military Intelligence Agencies
Petrov and Boshirov said that they were mid-level entrepreneurs, not military intelligence agents.
"We are not [working in the GRU]. … We are mid-level entrepreneurs. If we tell more about our business, people we work with will suffer, we do not want this," the two said.
They noted that their business was linked to the fitness industry, sports nutrition, protein and vitamins, but refused to provide further details.
The two men also noted that they had repeatedly visited Europe both on business trips and as tourists.
"Yes, of course. Mostly on business trips. … But not always for business. As for Switzerland, we went there for a vacation. We went there on a business trip, a long time ago," they said, when asked whether they had actually traveled to Europe before.
How Their Lives Changed Following UK's Accusations
Both Petrov and Boshirov described the situation around them as "fantastic and a fatal coincidence."
According to the suspects, they are concerned about own lives and their next of kin.
"We came here for protection, but it resembles interrogation. … After our lives turned into a nightmare, we had no idea what we should do — should we go to the police, to the Investigative Committee, to the UK Embassy, to the FSB. We were totally lost. … We cannot go out, we are scared. … We are concerned about own lives and those next of kin, those who know us," they said.
"You know, we would post a video. We have never encountered the media before, it would have been easier to express our feelings online," they said.
The two men further said that London's accusations had left their lives in tatters.
"How would you look like when your life turned upside down in just one day, left it in tatters," the two said, when asked why they looked so nervous.
Petrov and Boshirov also noted that they hoped that London would apologize to them after finding the real perpetrators behind the poisoning attempt.
"We hope that this situation will be resolved, that the UK side will apologize to us, that they will find those involved in this situation with Skripal," the two said, when asked whether they understood that it was highly likely that they'd be arrested if they left the country.
New Data on Skripal Poisoning Case Released by London
Last week, British officials charged Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with carrying out a failed nerve agent attack on former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in early March.
The Metropolitan Police released images of the suspected perpetrators, claiming that they were Russian military intelligence officers.
The police suggested that the two suspects, who allegedly traveled on valid Russian passports, arrived in London from Moscow two days before the alleged assassination attempt.
The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the charges and said that the names and photos of the suspects didn't prove that they had links to Russian military intelligence agencies.
On March 4, the day the Skripals were found unconscious on a park bench, the two suspects were reportedly caught on CCTV footage near Sergei Skripal's home.