Downing Street accuse Russia of 'lies and blatant fabrications' over Salisbury pair's 'alibi'
Downing Street has accused Russia of "lies and blatant fabrications" after the two men accused of the Salisbury chemical weapons attack claimed they were only in the city as tourists.
The men, who are accused of entering the UK under the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told Russia Today that they had no involvement in the incident, which left one woman dead and four others - including former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia - seriously ill.
Theresa May last week told MPs that the pair were officers in the Russian military intelligence service, known as the GRU.
They are accused of smuggling the nerve agent Novichok into the UK in a perfume bottle in March.
Mr Skripal and his daughter were the first pair to fall ill, followed by Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, the first police officer to arrive at the scene. All three were eventually released after hospital treatment.
In June, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess died and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill after apparently coming into contact with the same agent in nearby Amesbury.
But in their RT interview, Mr Borishov said: "For normal blokes, to be carrying women's perfume with us, isn't that silly? Even when going through customs, going wherever, all your things are inspected, any policeman during an inspection - well, they'd be asking the question: 'Why is there women's perfume in a man's baggage?'"
The men said their lives had been "turned upside down" by the allegations, and claimed they were now afraid to go outside.
But a spokesman for Theresa May dismissed the pair's story. He said: "The lies and blatant fabrications in this interview given to a Russian state-sponsored TV station are an insult to the public's intelligence.
"More importantly, they are deeply offensive to the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack. Sadly it is what we have come to expect.
"An illegal chemical weapon has been used on the streets of this country, we've seen four people left seriously ill in hospital and an innocent young woman has died. Russia has respnded with contempt.
"The police have set out very clearly against these two men. They are wanted men and we are taking all steps to ensure they are apprehended and brought to justice in the UK if they ever again set foot outside of Russia."
The Russian constitution prevents the extradition of any of the country's citizens, meaning it is highly unlikely that they will ever be brought to justice.
The leaders of America, Canada, France and Germany issued a joint-statement last week backing Britain.
At a meeting of the United Nations in New York, British ambassador Karen Pierce said Russia had "played dice with the lives of the people of Salisbury".
But Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya accused the UK of presenting "unfounded and mendacious facts" to bolster their claims that his country was responsible for the Salisbury attack.