'Heroes' picture that revealed true identity of novichok killer

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To validate the hypothesis that Chepiga is Skripal poisoning suspect "Boshirov", Bellingcat and The Insider obtained extracts from the passport file of Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga - the man born on 5th April 1979 - from two separate sources with access to databases dated prior to 2014.

One of the men accused of the Novichok poisoning attack in the United Kingdom was a highly decorated officer of the Russian Military Intelligence, an investigative journalism website claims.

He is one of two men now in Russian Federation who are wanted by the British authorities for the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in March.

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

The pair maintain they were holidaying in Salisbury and had nothing to do with the attack in March.

Russian military representatives pose in front of the memorial wall with Anatoliy Chepiga as the last name under the Gold Star honor list at the Far-Eastern Military Command Academy in Blagoveshensk, Russia May 24, 2017.

UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson triumphantly tweeted thanks to Bellingcat for supposedly identifying one of the Sergei Skripal poisoning suspects as a Russian colonel.

After they were identified, two men using these names appeared on Russian television to insist they were mere tourists to the English city of Salisbury.

It "would imply that 'the job was ordered at the highest level, '" the group quoted its source as saying, according to Agence France-Presse.

The investigators then tracked Chepiga to two addresses, one from 2003 that belonged to the barracks of the special forces brigade where he served, and another in Moscow from 2012. 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. Britain and the US, as well as its European allies, have condemned Russia for the attack, expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in retaliation.

"This finding starkly contradicts both this man's statements, as made in a TV interview to Russia's state-run RT network, and President Vladimir Putin's assertions that the person in question is merely a civilian named Ruslan Boshirov", Bellingcat said in its report.

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