“He was considered blatnoy.” Chepiga’s former fellow officers tell story of his career advancement
According to three officers, the Colonel was a straight-A student, however quite mediocre at field activities.
Three former fellow officers of Main Intelligence Directorate Colonel Anatoly Chepiga who, according to the Insider and Bellingcat, is one of the poisoners of the Skripals - Ruslan Boshirov - told Novaya Gazeta the details of Chepiga’s career advancement in the early 2000s in the 282 special forces team which is deployed in Matveevka, in the suburbs of Khabarovsk.
The officers asked not to publish the names due to the fact that some pieces of information they are sharing with may be considered divulgence of official secrets. The three are also convinced that Boshirov who has been recently interviewed by Simonyan is in fact Chepiga. “His appearance has changed, but this is definitely Tolya’s voice!” One of the officers said.
Chepiga joined the 282 special forces team in August 2001, holding the rank of Lieutenant - having graduated from the Far Eastern Military Command School. Almost immediately, Chepiga was appointed to a commanding officer of a scout crew.
“He had a relative - a big shot in the Administration of the Khabarovsk Region. He made efforts of Tolya so that he was sent to Khabarovsk. Chepiga was considered blatnoy (a member of a thief gang in Russia - editor's note). Even the unit leader Bernikov was conspicuously suave when talking to him.” One of the fellow officers added.
It is also noteworthy that Bernikov was a highly regarded military man. In February 2004, he was appointed to one of the trustees of then-candidate for Presidents of Russia Vladimir Putin. Now, he is retired.
Colonel Vitaly Bernikov. Photo: personal archive/Odnoklassniki social network
As for the information about awarding Chepiga the title of the Hero of Russia for a special op related to transporting Viktor Yanukovich from Ukraine, the persons interviewed by Novaya Gazeta did not confirm it saying that they do not know the details. However, in their words, it is a safe bet that Chepiga was awarded the title of the Hero for his deeds of valor in Crimea.
“The names of graduates who got the title of the Hero of Russia are engraved on the stele under Rokossovsky’s statue at the academy. There, one can see the names of Chepiga and Colonel Aleksander Popov who graduated from the Far Eastern Military Command School in 1995. Chepiga and Popov are awarded the title by decree of the President for the deeds of valor in Crimea.” One of the Colonel’s fellow officers said.
He added that it was not only blatnoy Chepiga was considered. He was also considered a ‘nerdy geek’. It was also pointed out that despite the fact that Chepiga was trying hard at school, he was quite mediocre at field activities.
It is to be recalled that the Insider and Bellingcat tend to believe that Anatoly Chepiga and a Salisbury tourist Ruslan Boshirov who is convicted of poisoning Sergei Skripal in Great Britain are the same people. Kremlin refused to comment on the topic.