Novichok suspect identified as highly decorated Russian military colonel

Arturo Kim
September 27, 2018

A group of investigative reporters claim they have discovered that one of the two suspects involved in the Salisbury nerve agent poisonings earlier this year is a highly decorated colonel from Russian military intelligence.

This short, off-season global jaunt just happened to coincide precisely with the poisoning of the Skripals with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union.

Bellingcat said it perused pictures of graduates of Russian military academies and found a man resembling Boshirov in a group shot.

Anatoliy Chepiga's 2003 passport photo and (right) the picture of Ruslan Boshirov, released by British police.

The investigative group Bellingcat said on Wednesday it had identified one of the men, whose passport name is Ruslan Boshirov, as Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga of the GRU.

A regional branch of the paramilitary organization DOSAAF states on its website that Chepiga went on three tours in Chechnya while in the special forces, and was awarded the Hero of Russian Federation award in 2014.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow on the latest claim from Bellingcat, which relies on social media and open sources in its investigations. In a Facebook post, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called Bellingcat's claim part of an anti-Russia "information campaign".

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Putin himself claimed the two suspects, one of them Borishov, were both civilians, whilst both appeared on Russian TV in a now-viral interview in which they stated they visited Salisbury as tourists, to see the "famous cathedral and".

They are also wanted for the attempted murder of Col Skripal and his daughter Julia.

In this grab taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on Wednesday September 5, 2018, Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov walk on Fisherton Road, Salisbury, England on March 4, 2018.

Other details have been filled in from an entry on a Russian veterans' website which says Chepiga was born in Nikolayevka, near the Chinese border, in 1979.

The agency combines military intelligence gathering with elite special forces capability and in recent years has reportedly been active in the Syrian conflict, Chechnya and Georgia.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Theresa May attacked Russian Federation for its "desperate fabrication" over the Salisbury spy poisoning as she addressed world leaders in NY.

Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal attends a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in Moscow on August 9, 2006.

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