Salisbury poisoning suspect named as a Russian colonel by United Kingdom media

27 September, 2018, 17:26 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Investigative group: Spy poisoning suspect is GRU colonel

British Prime Minister Theresa May has attacked Russia for its "desperate fabrication" over the poisoning of a former spy, as one of the suspects was identified as a highly decorated colonel in the Russian military intelligence agency.

Bellingcat said Wednesday that the suspect, whose passport name was Ruslan Boshirov, is in fact Col. Anatoliy Chepiga.

Earlier this month British police named "Boshirev" and another man, "Alexander Petrov", as suspects in the poisoning that targeted former Russian double agent Sergey Skripal with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in March this year.

United Kingdom officials have said they believe the men charged in the attack work for Russia's GRU, or military intelligence unit.

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

Rushlan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov had already been roundly mocked for claiming that they were tourists in Salisbury and that a visit to the cathedral was thwarted by snow.

The report included a passport photo of Anatoly Chepiga from 2003.

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Chepiga, who was born in 1979 in the village Nikolayevka, served in the special forces of the GRU after graduating from the military academy, and fought in Chechnya and possibly Ukraine, according to the news outlet.

He is linked to one of Russia's security services, according to the group.

Prime Minister Theresa May did not address the reports directly in a speech to the United Nations in NY, but spoke of "the reckless use of chemical weapons on the streets of Britain by agents of the Russian GRU (military intelligence)".

It then zeroed in on Chepiga, using leaked Russian databases available on the internet. The only region in which Russian Federation was conducting active military operations in secrecy at the time was in Eastern Ukraine, which is the most likely theatre of his mission, as suggested by the secrecy of his award. In a Facebook post, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called Bellingcat's claim part of an anti-Russia "information campaign".

In response to the Skripal poisoning, U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Woody Johnson said in a tweet earlier this month that the U.S. and Britain "stand firmly together in holding Russian Federation accountable for its act of aggression".

Following the attempted poisoning in March, UK investigators identified one of the two suspects as Ruslan Boshirov, the BBC reported on Thursday. Britain and the US, as well as its European allies, have condemned Russia for the attack, expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in retaliation.

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