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Russian journalists find a childhood classmate who confirms that one of the Salisbury suspects is really a man researchers say is a GRU colonel

A woman living in the town of Berezovka, in Russia’s Amur region, says she recognizes Anatoliy Chepiga as “Ruslan Boshirov,” one of the suspects identified by British authorities in the Salisbury attack that killed British citizen Dawn Sturgess and hospitalized former double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter.

“Yeah that’s Tolya,” the woman told the newspaper Kommersant, on the condition of anonymity. She says the two were close back in high school, and she recognized his voice, when he appeared in a television interview with Margarita Simonyan on RT. The woman has only good things to say about Chepiga: “He didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and never got involved with any bad crowd.”

Another woman in Berezovka told Kommersant that Chepiga served in “the secret service” in various “hot spots” after graduating from a military academy. “His mother would cry,” the woman said, adding that she last saw him roughly 10 years ago, but she didn’t recognize the photos of Chepiga published in the news media. “He was already almost bald,” the woman said. “He’s not very similar to this photo. He had an unguarded look, but this one’s looking up from under his eyebrows. Though his eyes were dark brown.”

Berezovka is located about 23 miles from the town of Nikolayevka, where Chepiga was born. Kommersant says it learned that Chepiga’s family spent many years in Berezovka before moving to Blagoveshchensk, the Amur region's administrative center.