Ruslan Boshirov is not Ruslan Boshirov. He is actually former military intelligence officer Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga – a claim unsurprising to London officials but furiously denied by those in Moscow.
Not everything is as it seems in the continuing nerve agent poison saga after an investigative outfit announced on Tuesday that the man claiming to be one half of the accused pair was really a former member of the nation’s Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU.
As reported by Bellingcat, the accused man who later appeared in an interview on state television is not who he claims to be. Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga is reportedly a decorated GRU officer bestowed with Russia’s highest state award, Hero of the Russian Federation. This is an honour usually awarded personally by President Vladimir Putin.
Multiple sources familiar with the person and the investigation have confirmed the suspect’s identity, the online publisher reports.
— Guy Elster (@guyelster) September 26, 2018
As previously published by Russia Reports, Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia became violently ill after exposure to the poison in the English city of Salisbury in March. The poisoning provoked international condemnation and subsequent sanctions from the United Kingdom against Russia. Both Skripals were admitted to intensive care but survived the poisoning.
The incident flared up again in July after two Britons who lived nearby also became exposed to the nerve agent. Dawn Sturgess, 44, died from the poisoning.
UK investigators have previously said Boshirov, and his accomplice “Alexander Petrov”, were Russian intelligence officers. British officials have yet to comment on the identification, though The BBC reports that it understands there is no dispute over the allegation.
Russia has denied any wrongdoing since the saga began in March. France, Germany, Canada and the United States of America have joined the UK however in officially naming Russia as the alleged culprit behind two poisonings.