True identity revealed: Salisbury suspect is colonel in Russian military intelligence

True identity revealed: Salisbury suspect is colonel in Russian military intelligence

Earlier this month, British prosecutors charged two Russians - identified as Ruslan Boshirov and Aleksandr Petrov - with attempted murder for carrying out the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the Novichok nerve toxin in the southern English city of Salisbury earlier this year.

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

They denied the British claim that they were Russian military intelligence officers, saying they work in the nutritional supplements business.

This still taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on September 5, 2018, shows Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov on Fisherton Road, Salisbury, England, March 4, 2018.

The independent United Kingdom -based research group Bellingcat and Russian website The Insider on Wednesday published an investigation that they said proved the suspect identified by British police under the alias "Ruslan Boshirev" was in fact Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.

The investigative reporters used leaked files to establish Chepiga, a colonel, was deployed to Chechnya three times and was awarded a "Hero of Russia", Russia's highest state award, in 2014.

Two Russian men later appeared on the state-funded RT channel and made widely mocked claims that they only went to England in early March to visit the "wonderful town" of Salisbury and its famous cathedral.

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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. At age 18, he enrolled at a military school just 40 kilometers from his home, the Far-Eastern Military Command Academy in Blagoveschensk, one of Russia's elite training grounds for marine commandos and Spetsnaz officers. It said they were undercover officers for the Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

The investigators then tracked Chepiga to two addresses, one from 2003 that belonged to the barracks of the special forces brigade where he served, and another in Moscow from 2012.

It is not clear why he received the award. The Kremlin has previously said that the suspects have nothing to do with Putin.

The Skripals were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in Salisbury.

The Russian Embassy in London was not immediately available to comment.

Britain has set out detailed evidence about the prime suspects in the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia while Russian Federation has only sought to "obfuscate", the Prime Minister said. Ms Sturgess fell critically ill and died.

The pair appeared on Russian TV to deny involvement in the plot.

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