Salisbury poisoning suspect named as decorated Russian colonel

Geneva Stokes
September 27, 2018

Bellingcat, a website that covers intelligence matters, said on September 26 that together with its investigative partner, the Insider, it had established that the man who was named as Ruslan Boshirov is actually GRU Colonel Anatoly Chepiga.

British authorities have named Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov as suspects in the Novichok nerve agent attack on former spook Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, but said these were likely aliases. In use since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the honour is issued personally by the president "as recognition of services to the state and the people of Russian Federation involving a heroic deed", the group says. Bellingcat got involved in the Skripal affair earlier this month, claiming to have obtained documents from the Russian passport database that they said proves Boshirov and his traveling companion, Alexander Petrov are Russian spies.

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".

It says he graduated from the Far-Eastern Military Command Academy in 2001, was sent to Chechnya three times and has more than 20 awards including the "Hero" accolade for a 2014 "peacekeeping mission".

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

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British officials said the two were poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade chemical weapon that was developed in the Soviet Union, and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin's government for the attack.

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

The website bills itself as "the home of online investigations" and its report on the man it revealed to be Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga has made headlines around the world.

The passport file contained a photograph - dated approximately in 2003, when this passport was obtained - that strongly resembled a younger "Boshirov" as seen in passport photos released by the United Kingdom police. CCTV released by police showed the two men in Salisbury close to Skripal's house on the day of the poisoning. The U.K.'s Metropolitan Police in a statement said they were "not going to comment on speculation regarding their identities". The pair survived but Dawn Sturgess - a woman not connected to the original attack - died in July after being exposed to the same substance. Russia's foreign ministry has previously denounced Bellingcat, alleging the group is related to Western intelligence agencies.

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