The Skripal suspects' walk through Salisbury

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FILE PHOTO: Police officers guard the cordoned off area around the home of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Britain, April 3, 2018.

The pair claimed they have been left fearing for their lives after Britain pointed to their involvement and said they were officers in Russian military intelligence service the GRU.

"Our friends have been suggesting for quite a long time that we visit this wonderful city", Petrov said in an exclusive interview to Russia's state-owned media outlet, Russia Today, a top Kremlin propaganda tool.

"Salisbury?" their interviewer asked.

DW takes a closer look at what the two suspects said.

The told RT that they were only in Salisbury for tourism, and wanted to see the cathedral, its clock, and nearby Stonehenge.

The two men were widely ridiculed after they claimed they had been to Salisbury to visit the city's cathedral, "famous for its 123-metre spire". Putin called them civilians and said there is "nothing criminal" about them.

RT's Simonyan noted during the interview that the United Kingdom authorities have accused the men of being members of Russian military intelligence.

And British journalists have been mocking the story on Twitter, highlighting the improbability of the pair's itinerary and route if they were truly tourists.

They've been accused of acting as Russian intelligence agents and attacking a former double agent in Salisbury, but the two men say that they're just regular businessmen who work in sports nutrition.

The Trump administration move to expel dozens of Russian diplomats after Britain publicly accused Moscow of being behind the Skripal poisoning.

London said the two men were Russian agents, which Moscow denies.

Detectives believe it is likely the two Salisbury suspects, thought to be aged around 40, travelled under aliases and that Petrov and Boshirov are not their real names.

Britain has said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence officers nearly certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state. In a 25-minute interview, they denied working for the Russian military intelligence service, saying they are in the fitness industry.

"Perhaps we did pass by Skripal's house, but we don't know where it is", said Boshirov.

British officials decried the interview, calling it "risible".

Police say the first visit was to stake out the town and the second to poison the Skripals. Police believe the perfume bottle had been specially adapted to carry the poison. The reason, according to the men, is that they are afraid for their safety and reluctant to provide the press with any more "fuel".

"They explained everything simply and clearly yesterday, why they went there, what they were doing there, what the weather was like", he told AFP.

"We have repeatedly asked Russian Federation to account for what happened in Salisbury in March", Britain said.

British police used surveillance camera footage from airports, transit stations, and elsewhere to outline the pair's movements.

They had been for lunch at a restaurant in central Salisbury on 4 March when they were found "in an extremely serious condition" on a bench outside the restaurant.

"They then travelled on London public transport to Waterloo station and were in the area between approximately 6pm and 7pm".

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