Novichok suspect identified as highly decorated Russian military colonel

Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga

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. He is seen (circled) with a group of fellow military graduates in Chechnya.

The two Russian are accused of poisoning former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March with the nerve agent novichok.

Britain has set out detailed evidence about the prime suspects in the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia while Russian Federation has only sought to "obfuscate", the Prime Minister said.

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

But beyond a photo from Chepiga's 2003 passport file resembling Boshirov, the report didn't contain further proof that Boshirov and Chepiga are the same person.

The group said that Chepiga's military school listed him among graduates bestowed with the Hero of Russian Federation award in December 2014, adding that the data signaled that he likely received the medal for his actions in eastern Ukraine. The prosecutors said the two were undercover officers for Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said this month he knew who the two suspects were, and that they were "civilians, of course".

He was initially named as Ruslan Boshirov by Prime Minister Theresa May in early September, though that name was believed to be an alias.

He and the other suspect in the case, now still known as Alexander Petrov, were captured on CCTV in Salisbury on the day before and the day of the poisoning of the Skripals in March.

The disclosure, uncovered by investigative journalist organisation Bellingcat in conjunction with The Telegraph, exposes as lies Mr Putin's claims that the Skripals'. The U.K.'s Metropolitan Police in a statement said they were "not going to comment on speculation regarding their identities". CCTV released by police showed the two men in Salisbury close to Skripal's house on the day of the poisoning.

However, both of the suspects have previously denied having any involvement in the poisoning, saying they were tourists visiting Salisbury.

The pair are accused of murdering local woman Dawn Sturgess who was unintentionally poisoned by a discarded bottle that contained the deadly nerve agent.

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