Salisbury poisoning suspect named as a Russian colonel by United Kingdom media

Salisbury poisoning suspect named as a Russian colonel by United Kingdom media

Salisbury poisoning suspect named as a Russian colonel by United Kingdom media

A fortnight later and it has been claimed that the Russian president himself bestowed the nation's highest military honour on Boshirov, whose real identity is said to be Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated colonel in the GRU intelligence service.

Ruslan Boshirov's real identity was claimed to be Colonel Anatoly Chepiga, who served in an elite commando unit and received the decoration of Hero of Russian Federation - the country's highest award - in 2014, according to Bellingcat.

Bellingcat claimed the colonel's passport name was Ruslan Boshirov, one of the two suspects charged by British prosecutors with attempted murder for the Novichok poisoning of the Skripals in the southern English city of Salisbury in March.

Russian Federation denies any involvement in the poisoning, and the two men have said they were merely tourists who had flown to London for fun and visited Salisbury to see its cathedral.

Bellingcat's latest revelation came after scouring the records of specialist military schools that would provide the training necessary for the covert work the two suspects engaged in.

They took to Russian state-television claiming they were tourists visiting Salisbury at the time of the poisoning.

Chepiga appears to have no social media accounts and there are no photographs of him online, the Bellingcat and Insider report said.

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The investigative group said it researched pictures of graduates of Russian military academies and found a man resembling Boshirov in a group photo.

It "would imply that 'the job was ordered at the highest level, '" the group quoted its source as saying, according to Agence France-Presse.

It was thought he travelled to the United Kingdom on a false passport, under a pseudonym, with another Russian national who used the name Alexander Petrov.

It has now emerged that he fought for a feared special forces Spetsnaz unit - which is under the command of the GRU - for 17 years, and worked for at least nine.

He is thought to have been working undercover for almost a decade, says Bellingcat, which traced his and "Petrov's" movements across Europe over several years.

Bellingcat says its finding "starkly contradicts both this man's statements, as made in a TV interview to Russia's state-run RT network, and President Vladimir Putin's assertions that the person in question is merely a civilian named Ruslan Boshirov". Boshirov said it was possible that they were near Skripal's house but did not know where it was.

The men were seen in Salisbury on the day of the attack, 4 March, according to CCTV footage.

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