Bellingcat and The Insider continue releasing new speculations and allegations on identities and activities of Skripal poisoning suspects, Russian citizens Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. [previous part]
In a report released on September 26, Bellingcat and The Insider claim that they “have established conclusively the identity” of Ruslan Boshirov. They claim that he’s in fact GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, who also has with the highest Russian state award – Hero of the Russian Federation.
“Following Bellingcat’s own identification, multiple sources familiar with the person and/or the investigation have confirmed the suspect’s identity.
This finding eliminates any remaining doubt that the two suspects in the Novichok poisonings were in fact Russian officers operating on a clandestine government mission,” Bellingcat’s article claims.
The article says futher:
“Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga was born on 5 April 1979, in the far-eastern village of Nikolaevka in the Amur oblast, population 300, near the Russia-China border. At age 18, he enrolled at a military school just 40 kilometers from his home, the Far-Eastern Military Command Academy in Blagoveschensk, one of Russia’s elite training grounds for marine commandos and Spetsnaz officers.
Anatoliy Chepiga graduated the academy with honors in 2001. He was then assigned to serve in the 14th Spetsnaz Brigade in Russia’s farthest-eastern city of Khabarovsk, one of the elite Spetsnaz units under GRU command. Chepiga’s unit (74854, formerly 20662) played a key role in the second Chechen War, and was also observed near the Ukrainian border in late 2014.
Over the course of his assignment to the 14th Spetsnaz Brigade, Colonel Chepiga was deployed three times to Chechnya. The specific operations he was involved in are not known; however, a website of a far-eastern branch of a state-run military volunteer organization reports that he received over 20 military awards in the course of his service.
At some point between 2003 (the last year we identified him at the 14thSpetsnaz Brigade in Khabarovsk) and 2010 (the year he received his first undercover passport), Anatoliy Chepiga was assigned his alter ego, “Ruslan Boshirov”, and was relocated to Moscow. Given his current rank of Colonel and function as a clandestine GRU officer, it is plausible that during this period he graduated from the Military Diplomatic Academy, also known as the “GRU Conservatory,” in Moscow.
In December 2014, Colonel Chepiga was awarded Russia’s highest state award, Hero of the Russian Federation.”
The article further claimed that Bellingcat and The Insider had obtained extracts from the passport file of Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga, an alleged GRU Colonel, “from two separate sources with access to databases dated prior to 2014.”
“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 UK police, with an even stronger resemblance to the cover identity passport photo published in our previous publication on the Skripal suspects.
A passport application form in the passport dossier listed Chepiga’s 2003 place of residence as “Military Unit 20662, Khabarovsk”, confirming this was indeed the person identified in the 2003 database. It also listed his place of birth as “village of Nikolaevka”, further linking this person to the Hero of the Russian Federation with the same name.
The passport application form identified also Anatoliy Chepiga’s marital status and listed his military ID number,” the article claimed.
It’s interesting to note that in this “investigation” as well as in their previous articles on this issue, Bellingcat and The Insider use documents obtained from undisclosed sources, and which cannot be verified independently, as the core of their allegations.
However, even if the provided data is theoretically true and Ruslan Boshirov is in fact Hero of the Russian Federation GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, this only raises more questions. It’s hard to believe that a highly decorated GRU officer [as a rule a GRU colonel can be compared to army lieutenant general] would be involved in a common field operation – to spray Novichok on Skripal’s front door.
It’s like to suggest that a British Secret Intelligence Service colonel awarded with the Victoria Cross would be tasked to spray some poison on door of an unremarkable former double agent living somewhere in Russia.
On the other hand, “investigations” of Bellingcat shows high efficiency and capabilities of the US cyber forces, who had been able to find a person in a thousands strong Russian special officers corpus, whos personal data can be used in the ongoing anti-Russian propaganda campaign. This was made with a high efficiency and in a very short time.
This situation shows that the processing power and its simulated “artificial intelligence” employed by the CIA and the NSA are superb allowing the US to dominate in information conflicts. Furthermore, this is an example that the US and Western states in general have enough Russian-speaking experts and specialists on Russia and post-USSR states. In turn, it looks that right now Russia does not have neither appropriate technologies nor a significant number of experts in the field.