Bellingcat identifies Skripal poisoning suspect as Russian colonel

Minnie Murray
September 27, 2018

British defense minister Gavin Williamson said the "true identity" of one of the suspects in a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Salisbury had been revealed, apparently confirming media reports that the suspect was a Russian colonel.

Chepiga served in Chechnya and was awarded the highest state medal - Hero of the Russian Federation - usually bestowed personally by President Vladimir Putin, Bellingcat said, adding that after its own identification of Chepiga, "multiple sources familiar with the person and/or the investigation have confirmed the suspect's identity".

ONE of the two prime suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent poisonings is a senior Russian military intelligence officer, it was revealed last night. This award is bestowed personally by the President of Russian Federation "as recognition of services to the state and the people of Russian Federation involving a heroic deed".

Russian National Alexander Petrov enters London at Gatwick Airport.

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

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 website's claims have been dismissed by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow on Bellingcat's latest claim.

Government officials said intelligence indicated the pair were GRU officers.

Bellingcat said the name was a "fake cover persona" for an as yet unidentified Russian individual.

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".

This short, off-season worldwide jaunt just happened to coincide precisely with the poisoning of the Skripals with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. While there is no publicly issued decree - or reference to him on the Kremlin website - the state-run volunteer website specifies that he received the award "in December 2014...for conducting a peace-keeping mission".

The men were seen in Salisbury on the day of the attack, 4 March, according to CCTV footage. The pair survived but Dawn Sturgess - a woman not connected to the original attack - died in July after being exposed to the same substance.

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