Skripal poisoning suspect is colonel in Russian military intelligence

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He enrolled in a military academy at age 18, graduating with honors and then joining Russian special forces.

The real identity of one of the two Russians blamed by Britain for the Salisbury nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is Anatoly Chepiga, the investigative website Bellingcat says, adding that he was a decorated Russian colonel.

British security services in September named Boshirov and Alexander Petrov as suspects in the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia using a nerve agent called Novichok, but said these were likely to be aliases.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the men suspected of the poisoning were members of Russian military intelligence acting on orders from a "high level".

Bellingcat obtained extracts from the passport file of Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga.

Mr. Putin had claimed Mr. Boshirov was a civilian, and on Russian TV, he himself said he visited Salisbury as a tourist.

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According to Bellingcat, Chepiga was conferred the Hero of Russian Federation medal, the country's highest medal, by presidential decree in December 2014.

Government officials said intelligence indicated the pair were GRU officers.

The passport file contained a photograph - dated approximately in 2003, when this passport was obtained - that strongly resembled a younger "Boshirov" as seen in passport photos released by the United Kingdom police. It resembles a younger version of the photo of "Ruslan Boshirov" provided by British authorities.

A Russian man accused of the Salisbury poisoning has been exposed as a military officer who received an honour from Vladimir Putin.

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.

Bellingcat's latest revelation came after scouring the records of specialist military schools that would provide the training necessary for the covert work the two suspects engaged in. Boshirov said it was possible that they were near Skripal's house but did not know where it was. CCTV released by police showed the two men in Salisbury close to Skripal's house on the day of the poisoning. Rowley unwittingly gifted the bottle to his partner Dawn Sturgess and both fell sick. (Bellingcat/Supplied) Bellingcat said Colonel Chepiga was awarded Russia's highest state award, the Hero of the Russian federation in 2014. Russia's foreign ministry has previously denounced Bellingcat, alleging the group is related to Western intelligence agencies.

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