Suspect in Salisbury poisoning receives hero's honor in Russia, Bellingcat says

11 October, 2018, 03:24 | Author: Carlos George
  • Reuters

British officials said when they charged two Russians last month in the March nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter that they believed Petrov was an assumed name. Amy Kellogg has the story.

One of two Russians who Britain blames for the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal was named by an investigative website on Monday as a military doctor for Russia's GRU intelligence service.

We have now identified "Alexander Petrov" to be in fact Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU.

Mishkin had travelled to the United Kingdom under the assumed name Alexander Petrov with another Russian agent Anatoliy Chepiga, who came on the false identity of Ruslan Boshirov. He and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a public bench in Salisbury, and the British authorities said they were sickened by a Soviet-made nerve agent. The person travelling under the alias of Ruslan Boshirov was identified as GRU's Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, recipient of Russia's highest state award.

In September, Bellingcat revealed he was actually a military intelligence officer named Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.

The two survived after a lengthy hospital stay in intensive care.

When they asked one of the respondents why nobody else recognised him, Mr Grozev said: 'That person told us everybody from his class, his department, was contacted two weeks ago and told not to talk to the media'.

The second man believed to be behind a nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England, has been identified as a Russian military doctor.

Releasing details about its latest findings on October 9, Bellingcat said that Aleksandr Mishkin was decorated at around the same time as Anatoly Chepiga in 2014 - the year Russian Federation seized Crimea and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, helping start a war that has killed more than 10,300 people.

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The suspects were identified as GRU agents and Theresa May said their actions were not a "rogue operation" and would have been approved at a senior level in Moscow.

Bellingcat also said it had obtained a copy of Mishkin's passport and that a facial recognition analysis of the passport photograph showed it matched a photo of 'Petrov.' Russian officials have dismissed Bellingcat's previous reports, but have refused to engage with their substance.

Bellingcat said that Mishkin graduated from a military medical academy in St. Petersburg between 2003 and 2004, where he trained as doctor in the naval armed forces.

The names on the pair's travel documents were Ruslan Boshirov (on the left above) and Alexander Petrov (on the right).

But the reporters were able to confirm his identity with a handful of local residents - some of whom had seen a picture of the man shaking hands with Putin.

He had climbed the ranks of the GRU after graduating from the a military medical academy no later than 2001, and relocated to Moscow at some point between 2007 and 2010.

A spokesman for the Home Office said it would not comment as it was a police investigation.

"It is easy to laugh at some of the GRU's poor tradecraft and their abilities, but we should not underestimate them nor indeed the unsafe and reckless use of nerve agent on our streets", he said.

Bellingcat traced him via passport info, residents' databases, auto registration records, and phone databases.

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