Russian spy poisoning: Skripal suspect's 'real identity revealed'

Russian spy poisoning: Skripal suspect's 'real identity revealed'

Russian spy poisoning: Skripal suspect's 'real identity revealed'

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.

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

Reporters claimed the man pictured could be Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga and sources obtained extracts from his passport file, showing him in 2003 and 2009 in images "that strongly resembled a younger Boshirov".

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.

A Bellingcat journalist, who writes under the pseudonym Moritz Rakuszizky, said he believed the group would soon be able to identify the second suspect in the Skripal case. Skripal and his daughter were nearly killed after a Novichok nerve agent was sprayed onto the door handle of his home in the countryside town.

If confirmed, the report would eviscerate claims by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, that the two men were civilians and had no link to Russian state intelligence.

Both suspects appeared in an interview on Russian state-funded news channel RT to say they were in Salisbury as tourists, wanting to see the cathedral.

He has now been identified as Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, an officer who served in Chechnya and Ukraine and was made a "Hero of the Russian Federation" by Putin in 2014.

Britain has charged Boshirov and Petrov with trying to kill Skripal and his daughter on March 4 with the Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok in the English city of Salisbury.

The Home Office is yet to comment on Bellingcat's reports. It said that Chepiga's passport file recorded his service with a Russian military unit that was part of the GRU's special forces.

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.

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

It is not clear why he received the award. CCTV released by police showed the two men in Salisbury close to Skripal's house on the day of the poisoning.

In June, a British citizen, Dawn Sturgess, died and her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, fell ill when they stumbled across remnants of the poison in a town near Salisbury.

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