Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

United Kingdom poison suspect is doctor for Russian intelligence

United Kingdom poison suspect is doctor for Russian intelligence

Last month, after a thorough investigation, British authorities identified two Russians believed to have carried out a nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal in the town of Salisbury earlier this year. 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.

Boshirov has been unmasked as decorated Russian agent Anatoliy Chepiga while Petrov has been identified as trained army doctor Alexander Mishkin.

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.

The two suspects in the attempted assassination of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal were originally named by the United Kingdom authorities as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov - although it was made clear that the names were aliases.

"We shouldn't also forget that there was a enormous effort made by our police and MI5 to spot them in the first place, track their movements and also. the huge effort that went in to develop the intelligence that helped guide us to the door of the GRU itself". The British government has not confirmed the names published by Bellingcat, but officials have not challenged the investigative group's findings.

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".

The Bellingcat report says Mishkin, the doctor it said works for Russian intelligence, was born in 1979 in the Archangelsk District in northern Russia and graduated from the elite Military Medical Academies, where he was trained for medical work in the Russian navy.

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

Eventually they had been able to use the information they had assembled to obtain copies of his passport and his driving licence. Around 30 replies came back nearly immediately saying they did not know, but two respondents confirmed they did recognise him. Another person said "Yes, this is the guy everybody is looking for, '" Mr Grozev said.

"From there we could establish there was something very suspicious about these people".

The GRU has come under the spotlight after its agents was accused of trying to hack the global chemical weapons watchdog investigating the Salisbury attack.

Unlike the case of Anatoliy Chepiga, "Petrov"'s cover identity retained most of the biographical characteristics of the authentic Mishkin - such as the exact birth date, first and patronymic name, and first names of his parents.

The spy agency was widely ridiculed after its four-man "close access" team left behind a string of clues to their true identity, including computer traces and taxi receipts.

A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refused to comment on the Bellingcat report.

This is how British authorities discovered the two Russian agents allegedly behind the novichok attack.

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