Novichok Suspect Identified As Russian GRU Colonel Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga

Ruslan Boshirov one of the men accused of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in March was identified by   London Metropolitan Police

Ruslan Boshirov one of the men accused of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in March was identified by London Metropolitan Police

The unmasking of Boshirov as Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga opens a trail right to the top of the Kremlin, given that President Putin awarded the GRU officer Russia's top military honour in 2014.

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

The real identity of one of the men wanted by Britain for the Salisbury nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Wednesday, saying he was a decorated Russian colonel.

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.

United Kingdom authorities believe Chepiga and his accomplice smeared the highly toxic novichok chemical on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of former GRU officer Mr Skripal, leaving him and his daughter critically ill.

"The true identity of one of the Salisbury suspects has been revealed to be a Russian Colonel".

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.

With little information about the pair the Bellingcat website worked on the assumption that the two suspects were "GRU officers with a focus on West European covert operations" and decided the Far Eastern Military Command was "the school with the best reputation for foreign-language training and overseas clandestine operations".

Surveillance camera footage of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov in Salisbury on the day Sergei Skripal collapsed.   London Metropolitan Police
Surveillance camera footage of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov in Salisbury on the day Sergei Skripal collapsed. London Metropolitan Police

The man named as Ruslan Boshirov (left) is said by The Bellingcat group to be Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said the men had been discounted as members of his security network, and insisted they were civilians.

The other suspect was identified by prosecutors as Alexander Petrov. The U.K.'s Metropolitan Police in a statement said they were "not going to comment on speculation regarding their identities".

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

The U.S. levied sanctions against Russian Federation at the end of August in retaliation for the attack.

The pair survived the attack but two more people were poisoned and one of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, died in July.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement in the poisoning, repeatedly suggesting that the U.K.'s government might have carried out the attack itself.

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