Russian spy poisoning: Kremlin expects Britain to share suspects' identity
The Kremlin said yesterday it expects Britain to say what it knows about the identity of the two suspects (pictured) in the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy so that Russian officials can launch an investigation.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the allegations made by British-based investigative group Bellingcat and others can't serve as a basis for such an inquiry.
Suspects tried to kill ex-spy with Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok
Britain charged Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov with trying to kill ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok.
The Skripals survived the March 4 attack, but a resident of a nearby England town later died after apparently having contact with the poison.
Britain has said the attack received approval "at a senior level of the Russian state."
Boshirov is Anatoly Chepiga of Russian military intelligence agency: Bellingcat
Britain's accusation was fiercely denied by Moscow. Bellingcat said the man identified as Boshirov is, in fact, Col Anatoly Chepiga of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU who was awarded Russia's highest medal in 2014. Only a photo from Chepiga's 2003 passport file resembles Boshirov.
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Residents of Chepiga's village identified him as Boshirov
Apart from the photo, the report didn't contain further proof of the resemblance.
However, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Thursday that some residents in Beryozovka, a village in Russia's far east near the border with China where Chepiga's family once lived, confirmed that they recognized Chepiga as the man identified as Boshirov.
Kommersant said they spoke on condition of anonymity fearing official reprisals.
Peskov scoffs at reports, says "We've 10 Stalins, 15 Lenins"
Peskov scoffed at the claim that in a passport file found by Bellingcat, Chepiga closely resembles Boshirov, pointing at lookalikes of Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin hunting for tourists eager to pay for a shot on Red Square.
"We have 10 Stalins and 15 Lenins on Red Square, and all of them closely resemble the real ones," he snapped.
Kremlin gave little credibility to investigative reports, says Peskov
Asked if the Kremlin could confirm that Chepiga received the Hero of Russia medal, Peskov claimed to have checked but found no such information.
He said that the Kremlin gave little credibility to investigative reports and media articles on the case, saying, "We can't have media as our vis-a-vis in such a sensitive case."
"Such materials should only come from competent sources," he added.