Salisbury poisoning suspect named as a Russian colonel by UK media

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A British-based investigative group claims that one of two men charged with attempted murder in the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal earlier this year is a highly decorated officer in Russia's military intelligence service.

The Bellingcat group claims the man who was named as Ruslan Boshirov is actually Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga. The award is "as recognition of services to the state and the people of Russian Federation involving a heroic deed".

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.

In its report about Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, Bellingcat outlines how its investigation arrived at its conclusion.

Investigators said they carried out image searches on several online search engines, contacted former Russian military officers, browsed photos of a military academy yearbook, searched specific terms online, and scoured leaked Russian databases.

Chepiga, according to Bellingcat, was born on May 5, 1979, in the village of Nikolaevka, in the Amur region close to Russia's border with China.

A former senior Russian military officer said Chepiga's ranking and experience suggested "the job was ordered at the highest level".

Investigative website Bellingcat has concluded that Chepiga is in fact an undercover officer of GRU, along with his suspected accomplice "Alexander Petrov" - which is also an alias.

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Russian has denied the allegations and said the two men were civilians.

The 39-year-old GRU military intelligence service colonel is a married father-of-one.

He is thought to have been working undercover for almost a decade, says Bellingcat, which traced his and "Petrov's" movements across Europe over several years.

They then obtained extracts from the passport file of Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga which contained a photograph that strongly resembled a younger "Boshirov", the report said. Other Russian soldiers who have recently received the award with few details mentioned have been found to be fighting covertly in eastern Ukraine or Syria.

ONE of the men accused of poisoning Sergei Skripal in the English country town of Salisbury has been outed as a highly awarded intelligence officer in Russian Federation. The U.K.'s Metropolitan Police in a statement said they were "not going to comment on speculation regarding their identities".

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

Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after the pair fell ill.

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