THE UK has accused Russia of responding with “obfuscation and lies” after the prime suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attack said they visited the UK as tourists.

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov told Russian news channel RT they travelled to the “wonderful” city in Wiltshire, where former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia were poisoned with Novichok, after recommendations from friends.

Petrov and Boshirov said they have been left fearing for their lives after Britain suggested involvement and said they were officers in Russian military intelligence service the GRU.

In the interview, with RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, the men were quoted, in a translation from Russian as saying they arrived in London on March 2 and visited Salisbury two days later.

They denied carrying women’s perfume, after police discovered a counterfeit bottle that contained a “significant amount” of Novichok.

Boshirov acknowledged they might have been near Skripal’s house but they did not know where it was.

The pair asked for an apology from the UK authorities, adding: “We just want this to be over.”

Tests on the east London hotel room where the suspects had stayed showed contamination with Novichok.

A UK Government spokesman said: “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.

“We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March. Today – just as we have seen throughout – they have responded with obfuscation and lies.”

Vladimir Putin said the men were civilians who had been discounted as members of his security network.