Russians charged in poisoning say they visited United Kingdom as tourists

British police have said they believe both men are using aliases.

The two men accused by the United Kingdom of attempting to assassinate a Russian double-agent with nerve poison have defended themselves, claiming they were only at the site of the killing because they wanted to see a cathedral.

Asked by Simonyan whether they had the perfume bottle that had been shown as evidence by United Kingdom authorities, Boshirov said: "Is it silly for decent lads to have women's perfume? The cathedral there is known everywhere throughout Europe and the world over", he added. "It's famous for its clock, one of the first ever created in the world that's still working", added Boshirov reeling off facts that closely resembled those laid out in a Russian-language Wikipedia entry about Salisbury. "These are civilians", he said this week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, on Wednesday denied the men worked for the military.

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.

Last week, British police identified Russian nationals Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as the two prime suspects in the March poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any involvement in the case.

"Unlike the murderers of Litvinenko", wrote Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the USA think-tank Atlantic Council, "these two men are sent through the meat grinders". In the interview the two suspects said these were their real names.

"The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service - the GRU - who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country", the statement said.

"In short, it's the fitness industry, it is about sports nutrition, vitamins, proteins, microelements", the men explained.

"When your life turned upside down, you don't know what to do and where to go", Boshirov said.

Skripal, his daughter, and a police officer were left gravely ill by exposure to Novichok in March.

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.

The interviewer, RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, at times seemed more interested in insinuations about the men's personal relationship than their alleged military status. They were also pictured visiting the city a day earlier.

"They demanded that only one camera run during the interview and refused to show their IDs", RT says of the interview carried out by Simonyan. "Their passports match and the photos and the information from the British side shows it's these people", she said.

They declined to give any other details about their lives, except to say they work in the nutritional supplements business.

But it's their job, apart from vacations, which has led them to travel overseas in order to scout for best products on the market, they said.

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

Boshirov: On March 3, actually. Relations between London and the Kremlin, already frosty, plunged into crisis after the attack. Leaving Salisbury at approximately 4.10pm and arriving in Bow at approximately 8.05 pm. They got a flight back to Russian Federation later that evening.

Vanessa Coleman