Second poisoning suspect ID’d as military doctor who works for Russian GRU

Posted October 10, 2018

The second suspect in the Salisbury poisoning case was a doctor and highly decorated Russian military intelligence officer, an investigative website says. Amy Kellogg has the story.

A day earlier, Bellingcat said it determined that the suspect who traveled to Britain in March on a passport under the name Aleksandr Petrov is actually Mishkin, a military doctor employed by Russia's military intelligence agency, widely known as the GRU.

Chepiga used the alias Ruslan Boshirov and Mishkin used 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.

Last month, Bellingcat, along with its partner investigators at the news-site Insider, identified the other suspected poisoner as special-forces veteran Anatoliy Chepiga, a colonel in the GRU. The Kremlin has maintained variously that the Skripal poisoning never happened, that it was carried out by the British spies in order to blame Russian Federation or that murky third parties were responsible.

"Bellingcat's identification process included multiple open sources, testimony from people familiar with the person, as well as copies of personally identifying documents, including a scanned copy of his passport", the website said.

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 Skripals survived after a lengthy hospital stay in intensive care. The British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after unwittingly spraying the novichok on her wrists.

His GRU rank was unknown, it added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kremlin officials have dismissed allegations about GRU operatives mounting the murder attempt on Skripal, and they also reject claims of the Russian intelligence services carrying out other so-called active measures in Europe and elsewhere as "fantasies".

Using this identity, Alexander Petrov, travelled extensively to several European countries including Ukraine and Moldova.

The details about Dr Mishkin came less than a fortnight after Bellingcat outed Mr Chepiga, who is also a GRU officer.

Four Russians allegedly attempted to hack into the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague in the wake of the Salisbury attack.

He was recruited by the secretive GRU, given the undercover identity of Alexander Petrov when he was stationed in Moscow and made multiple trips to Ukraine, the investigative group said.

'Interestingly, we have not seen her because the moment we announced this press conference today, the grandmother was asked to visit her children - Mr Mishkin's father and mother - in another town so she vanished from the village three days ago, ' he said.

The U.S. Justice Department also charged seven GRU officers in an alleged global hacking rampage that targeted more than 250 athletes, a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company, a Swiss chemical laboratory and the chemical weapons watchdog.