A woman in the far east of Russia has told the BBC she recognises one of the key suspects in the Salisbury attack as a military intelligence officer.
The woman identified him immediately from photographs as Anatoliy Chepiga, a decorated Her assertion supports research by the Bellingcat online investigations team, which also identified Col Chepiga as one of the Salisbury suspects.
The man told Russian state TV he was Ruslan Boshirov, a civilian.
The BBC understands that British officials do not dispute the findings by Bellingcat. British police believe the suspects were not using their real names.
Russia denies any involvement in the Novichok nerve agent attack, in which former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned on 4 March.
A BBC team travelled some 5,000 miles east of Moscow to the village of Beryozovka, where Anatoliy Chepiga grew up, close to Russia’s border with China.
There, a woman identified a young Anatoliy in the photographs discovered and published by Bellingcat.
She then confirmed that a mugshot released by British police of “Ruslan Boshirov” was also Col Chepiga.
“I know where his parents used to live, that he was a military man. An officer. He fought in war zones, then he was in Moscow,” she told the BBC – the first foreign journalists to visit since the Bellingcat report.
Nervous about speaking, she asked to remain anonymous, but said she had seen Col Chepiga as an adult, with his child, and she was sure he and “Boshirov” were one and the same.
She added: “It’s him in the photos, of course.”
Locals say the family moved out of Beryozovka several years ago.