Novichok Russian who said he was tourist unmasked as spy colonel

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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.

United Kingdom authorities believe the pair smeared the highly toxic chemical Novichok on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal, leaving Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia critically ill on March 4.

She told the UN Security Council in New York: 'We have taken appropriate action, with our allies, and we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure our collective security.

Sitting next to the leaders of China and Japan, Vladimir Putin insisted Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were civilians with "nothing criminal" about their trip to Salisbury. He enrolled in a military academy at age 18, graduating with honors and then joining Russian special forces.

Reporters claimed the man pictured could be Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga and sources obtained extracts from his passport file, showing him in 2003 and 2009 in images "that strongly resembled a younger Boshirov".

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

"Russia has only sought to obfuscate through desperate fabrication", she said.

In 2014 he was awarded Russia's highest military honour, the Hero of the Russian Federation, by Vladimir Putin himself.

"Following Bellingcat's own identification, multiple sources familiar with the person and/or the investigation have confirmed the suspect's identity", Bellingcat reports.

Bellingcat has released a detailed biography of Chepiga, and claim he has received over 20 awards for his service to Russian Federation over the course of his military career.

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They denied the British claim that they were Russian military intelligence officers, saying they worked in the nutritional supplements business.

The website's claims have been dismissed by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Britain has said the attack received approval "at a senior level of the Russian state", an accusation Moscow has fiercely denied. Both survived, but a British citizen named Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to the substance in Wiltshire in July.

In this grab taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on Wednesday September 5, 2018, Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov walk on Fisherton Road, Salisbury, England on March 4, 2018.

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

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