London, Sep 27 : Russian President Vladimir Putin has facilitated one of the trained assassins wanted for poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, with the country’s highest award. UK investigators identified one of the two suspects as Ruslan Boshirov.
The 39-year-old,is a decorated colonel in Russian military intelligence and has served in wars in Chechnya and Ukraine, was made a Hero of the Russian Federation by decree of the President in 2014 in a secret ceremony.
Putin had claimed Boshirov was a civilian, and on Russian TV, he himself said he visited Salisbury as a tourist.
But according to the British website Bellingcat, Boshirov is actually an intelligence officer by the name of Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.
He has served in Chechnya and Ukraine was made a “Hero of the Russian Federation” in 2014.
The 39-year-old trained at one of Russia’s elite academies and served with a special forces unit under the command of the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence service, the website said in a report.
He earned more than 20 military awards for his service.
He is believed to have transferred to Moscow around 2009, where he was given a false identity as Ruslan Boshirov and has been working undercover for the past nine years, the website revealed .
However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the new claims, saying there was no evidence.
Skripal, who sold secrets to British intelligence agency MI6, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok on March 4.