BBC Newsnight: Novichok suspect's real name

Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga

Image Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga

Rushlan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov had already been roundly mocked for claiming that they were tourists in Salisbury and that a visit to the cathedral was thwarted by snow.

Ruslan Boshirov's real identity was claimed to be Colonel Anatoly Chepiga, who served in an elite commando unit and received the decoration of Hero of Russian Federation - the country's highest award - in 2014, according to Bellingcat.

Ruslan Boshirov, who was formally accused of attempting to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, is seen on CCTV at Gatwick Airport on March 2, 2018 in an image handed out by the Metropolitan Police in London, Britain September 5, 2018.

The post was removed after 20 minutes and using Twitter's web client, according to Politwoops, a UK-based service tracking tweets deleted by members of Parliament and other political figures. This is the case with the award to Colonel Chepiga. Skripal and his daughter were nearly killed after a Novichok nerve agent was sprayed onto the door handle of his home in the countryside town.

Chepiga, who was born in 1979 in the village Nikolayevka, served in the special forces of the GRU after graduating from the military academy, and fought in Chechnya and possibly Ukraine, according to the news outlet.

Bellingcat's latest revelation came after scouring the records of specialist military schools that would provide the training necessary for the covert work the two suspects engaged in.

The Kremlin was branded shameful on Wednesday night after claiming Chepiga and his unknown accomplice were holidaymakers - as Russian lies were seemingly exposed.

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It is not clear why he received the award.

It identified the man as Chepiga, and eventually tracked down his passport file, dated 2003, with a picture bearing a strong resemblance to Boshirov. The U.K.'s Metropolitan Police in a statement said they were "not going to comment on speculation regarding their identities".

Following the attempted poisoning in March, UK investigators identified one of the two suspects as Ruslan Boshirov, the BBC reported on Thursday.

ONE of the men accused of poisoning Sergei Skripal in the English country town of Salisbury has been outed as a highly awarded intelligence officer in Russian Federation. Sergei Skripal's daughter Yulia Skripal seen in this undated photo.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after the pair fell ill.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Theresa May attacked Russian Federation for its "desperate fabrication" over the Salisbury spy poisoning as she addressed world leaders in NY. Russia's foreign ministry has previously denounced Bellingcat, alleging the group is related to Western intelligence agencies.

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