Salisbury poisoning suspect is Russian colonel

Ruslan Boshirov

Ruslan Boshirov

The controversial cyber-sleuths claimed on Wednesday that one of the men named by the United Kingdom as a suspect in the "chemical attack" on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury this March is actually a colonel in Russian special forces.

Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, who used the alias Ruslan Boshirov to enter the United Kingdom before allegedly carrying out the novichok attack in March, was made a Hero of the Russian Federation by decree of the president during a secret ceremony in 2014.

The 39-year-old had served in wars in Chechnya and Ukraine and was also made recipient of the Hero of the Russian Federation by Vladimir Putin in 2014 during a secret ceremony.

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, meanwhile, said in a tweet on September 26 that "the true identify of one of the Salisbury suspects has been revealed to be a Russian colonel", without mentioning the name.

In this video grab provided by the RT channel, Ruslan Boshirov, left, and Alexander Petrov attend their first public appearance in an interview with the Kremlin-funded RT channel in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 13.

Russian National Alexander Petrov enters London at Gatwick Airport.

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United Kingdom investigators have said Mr Boshirov was a Russian intelligence officer.

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

There was no immediate comment from Moscow on the latest claim from Bellingcat, which relies on social media and open sources in its investigations.

The use of Novichok in the assassination attempt was a violation of worldwide law banning the use of chemical weapons. They denied the British claim that they were Russian military intelligence officers, saying they work in the nutritional supplements business.

Bellingcat said the man who until now has been known as Ruslan Boshirov is actually Anatoly Chepiga, who was born in a small town in Russia's Far East. It said that Chepiga's passport file recorded his service with a Russian military unit that was part of the GRU's special forces.

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