By John Helmer, Moscow
Truth, like eating boots, can be funny to watch. This is because truth and boots are equally easy to cook and just as unappetising, unless you are starving.
On Wednesday President Vladimir Putin responded to the naming of two would-be assassins of Sergei Skripal by Prime Minister Theresa May and the Metropolitan Police in London. “We already know who they are, and we have located them,” Putin said in Vladivostok. “I hope they will show up and tell everyone about themselves. This would be better for everyone. I assure you that there is nothing special or criminal here. We will see shortly… I would like to address them, so they can hear us today. Let them come to a media outlet and tell everything.”
The next day, Thursday in Moscow, this is what Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov did. For the measure of the evidence against them, read this. For just over 25 minutes Margarita Simonyan, the chief of state publisher and broadcaster RT, interviewed them. They objected to being questioned about their sexual orientation. “Let’s not breach anyone’s privacy,” Boshirov told Simonyan. “We came to you for protection, but this is turning into some kind of an interrogation.”
They were more revealing about their shoes, at least one pair of which they said they bought on Oxford Street, London. Eating, they explained, is their line of business – “supplements for athletes, vitamins, minerals, proteins, gainers, and others. If we give you any further details, this may affect our partners and people we know.”
Sputnik News, a competing state news medium and broadcaster, has asked me four questions about the broadcast, and these are my answers.
Q: Now that the interview has been aired, what position does it put the UK into?
A: In a comedy of errors everybody ends up being laughable.
Q: What reaction are you expecting from London and the Western community for this matter?
Q: What do you make of London’s attempts to present the two as agents of GRU and imply that the Skripal attack was approved at a senior level of the Russian state?
A: No laughing matter
Q: With the latest developments in mind, where is the whole Skripal saga leading us to?
A: In wartime we run out of things to laugh about.
If you prefer boots to truth, here is Charlie Chapin in the eating excerpt from his 1925 film, The Gold Rush.