Russia really wants to convince you the Salisbury spies are gay lovers
Russia state propaganda outlets are inferring that the alleged spies responsible for the Sergei Skripal poisoning are actually just gay tourists.
The UK named two Russian suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as suspects in a plot to poison former the Russian officer and his daughter at their home in Salisbury, England.
Despite an extensive CCTV trail of the pair’s abrupt trip to Salisbury on the day of the poisoning, Russian state propaganda outlet Russia Today carried an interview in which the men insisted they were actually just “tourists.”
In the bizarre 25-minute interview, the pair denied all knowledge of the plot and insisted they were just two men going on holiday to see the 123m steeple at Salisbury Cathedral.
Russia Today attempted to make inferences about their sexuality, asking: “All the footage features you two together. You spend time together, you live together, you walk together.. what do you have in common that you spend so much time together?’”
Boshirov replied: “Let’s not pry into our private lives.”
The alleged spies also went to lengths to challenge allegations that they carried the Novichok nerve agent in a perfume bottle.
Boshirov insisted: “Isn’t it silly for a normal man to carry women’s perfume? Even just passing through customs.
“When you pass through customs they check all your things, or just any police officer can look through them, I think if we would have had something, they would have had questions. Why does a man in his luggage have women’s perfume?”
Petrov added: “That would raise questions even among simple people, why a man has women’s perfume. We didn’t have it.”
Some people appear to have bought the story.
Craig Murray, a former official who has faced criticism for pushing debunked conspiracy theories related to the poisoning, claimed on Twitter after the interview that the “most likely interpretation is that they are a gay couple… [who] enjoy looking at architecture and history together.”
The UK government has dismissed claims in the RT interview as “blatant lies.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson accused the Russian state of manufacturing “lies and blatant fabrications” that “are an insult to the public’s intelligence.”
The Downing Street official added: “More importantly, they are deeply offensive to the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack.”
The spokesman added: “An illegal chemical weapon has been used on the streets of this country.
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“We have seen four people left seriously ill in hospital and an innocent woman has died. Russia has responded with contempt.”
It would hardly be the first time Russian propaganda outlets have weaponised sexuality for disinformation campaigns.
Ahead of the French presidential election in 2017, another Russian state outlet, Sputnik News, published a smear story inferring that frontrunner Emmanuel Macron was secretly gay.
Macron later banned RT and Sputnik from covering his events, accusing them of perpetuating homophobia and lies to interfere in the election.
In 2017, Russian government-run content farms were confirmed to be running popular Facebook pages targeted at LGBT people in the US.