Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and OSINT group Bellingcat found in open sources the photos of Russian spy Anatoly Chepiga, who, according to the UK authorities, was at play in poisoning the Skripals in the British town of Salisbury.
Anatoly Chepiga must have been caught on camera during the wedding ceremony of Major General Andrey Averyanov’s daughter. Averyanov is the commander of secret military unit Nr 29155 of which has recently come into the focus of the New York Times in its article ‘Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say’.
Chepiga does not seem to have been a chance-comer: his children were also present at the ceremony. It is also known that the event took place at the hotel located on the shore of Lake Senezh. It is 15 minutes from the base of the Russian special operations forces. The wedding was celebrated six months prior to the incident in Salisbury.
The investigation by RFE/RL and Bellingcat confirms the fact of the personal acquaintance of Anatoly Chepiga and commander Andrey Averyanov and prove that Chepiga is not a ‘businessman selling sports nutrition’, but a man closely related to the GRU. Moreover, the photos and video are indicative of the Chepiga and Averyanov families’ being on friendly terms. The men might have buddies up during one of the wars in Chechnya.
On 4 March 2018, Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unconscious at a shopping mall in the English town of Salisbury. The two were taken to hospital in critical condition. The were reportedly poisoned following exposure to an unknown substance. A bit later, British Prime Minister Theresa May said they had been poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.
The incident caused a number of rows and triggered a diplomatic war between the West and the Kremlin.
In September 2018, he Insider and OSINT group Bellingcat published the results of its journalistic investigation regarding Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov whom the British authorities suspect of poisoning the former Russian agent and his daughter. According to the journalists, the real name of ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ is Anatoly Chepiga, a GRU Colonel and Hero of Russia, while ‘Alexander Petrov’ is GRU officer Alexander Mishkin in real life.