Real identity uncovered of second Russian linked to Skripal poisoning: Bellingcat

Howard TerryOct 10, 2018

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.

Bellingcat, who worked with Russian news organisation The Insider, identified the man as Alexander Mishkin, a doctor working for the Russian GRU intelligence service.

Bellingcat alleges Mishkin traveled under the name Alexander Petrov when he and GRU Col. Anatoliy Chepiga traveled to the southern English city of Salisbury in March, where the agents allegedly poisoned the Skripals with the nerve agent, novichok.

During his studies he was recruited by the GRU military intelligence agency and by 2010 had relocated to Moscow, where he received his undercover identity - including a second national ID and travel passport - under the alias Alexander Petrov.

The British website has scooped the rest of the media with its reports on the nerve agent attack that almost killed the ex-spy and his daughter in England, providing evidence the Russians had identities far more intriguing than the aliases they used as supposed tourists.

The website had earlier identified Ruslan Boshirov, the first suspect, as the GRU's Anatoliy Chepiga.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was likely ordered at the highest levels of the Russian government, an allegation vehemently rejected by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Another source who spoke to Bellingcat was able to provide a scanned copy of Dr Mishkin's passport from 2001, as well as a second document featuring another photograph of a person with a strong facial resemblance, dated 2016.

United Kingdom police have accused both men of carrying out the operation to poison former Russian double agent, Sergey Skripal with a nerve agent in the small English town of Salisbury back in March.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "I already told you last week that we won't continue any discussions on (reports) of media channels and various civil research organisations".

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

His GRU rank was unknown, it added. The British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after unwittingly spraying the novichok on her wrists.

In this file grab taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on September 5, 2018, Ruslan Boshirov and "Alexander Petrov" walk on Fisherton Road, Salisbury, England, March 4, 2018.

Bellingcat, which covers intelligence matters, named him as Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, aged 39, who was charged by Britain last month under the name of Alexander Petrov.

When asked about the naming of Mr Mishkin, the Kremlin would not comment.

Bellingcat cross-referenced this information with other leaked databases, including a vehicle insurance database which identified the same man as the driver of a Volvo registered to the GRU headquarters. While recent failings by the GRU had made it easy to mock the spy agency, he said, it would be foolish not to take them seriously. Last week the U.S. Department of Justice indicted seven named GRU officers on charges they had hacked global organizations, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

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