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By John Helmer, Moscow

Speaking for President Vladimir Putin in Tajikistan on Friday afternoon, Dmitry Peskov announced that no record has been found of Putin awarding the Hero of Russia medal for military valour to Anatoly Chepiga. He also announced there are at least two dozen Vladimir Lenins and Joseph Stalins on Red Square.

“We checked it”, Peskov responded to reporting from a NATO information-warfare unit and the British press last Wednesday, claiming Chepiga is a colonel of the Russian military intelligence organization known as GRU; recipient of the Hero of Russia medal in 2014; and the real name of Ruslan Boshirov, one of two men the British authorities have accused of attempting to assassinate Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last March. For details of the British claims and Peskov’s first response, read this.

“I have no information that a person with this name was awarded [the medal]”  Peskov said. For an edited version of Peskov’s remarks, listed to this tape.

On Friday afternoon, following Peskov’s remarks to reporters, Peskov appeared at this meeting of President Putin with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe. The Kremlin photograph shows Peskov second from the left. 

“It is impossible and really hard for us to carry out a discussion on this account [about the suspects in the Skripal poisoning case] with the mass media,” Tass translated Peskov as saying. “And we would not like to do it: it is just impossible. We cannot have media outlets acting as counterparts on a sensitive issue like the Skripal incident. To be able to take part in the investigation into this incident, the corresponding services should have reference materials, official reference materials, and these materials may be received only from competent sources.”

According to the state media agency Sputnik in English, Peskov said: “No one can figure out which of these news stories are false and which are true.” “The Kremlin does not want to keep addressing this issue, all the more so, having the media as a partner. All of these arguments — who looks like whom and so on — you know, in Red Square … there are ten Stalins and 15 Lenins running, and all are extremely similar to the original.”

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