Bellingcat investigators say second Skripal poisoning suspect identified

Aaron Brown
October 11, 2018

The second of two Russians who Britain says poisoned former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter has been named as a military doctor for Russian intelligence by a United Kingdom investigative website.

Dr Alexander Mishkin, a 39-year-old trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU, was identified as the second suspect by the website.

Prosecutors charged Petrov and another man they named as Ruslan Boshirov with attempted murder for the attack that was carried out in March, although they said both men had used aliases.

The poisoning of Skripal, a former Russian agent who was convicted of spying for Britain, became a major global incident.

Following the poisoning, both Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia spent several weeks in a hospital, but both ultimately survived.

The Russian authorities have denied any involvement in the poisonings.

The Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom called the Bellingcat report "a display of freedom of public debate".

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 town is exceptionally remote, inaccessible by road except in winter when the grounds freezes hard and normally reachable only by a narrow-gauge railway.

He graduated in 2003 or 2004 from the Russian military's medical academy in St Petersburg, where he specialised in "deep underwater physiology".

Alexander Mishkin current military rank is unknown.

In its previous reporting, the team already produced evidence that "Alexander Petrov" is not an authentic persona, but an undercover alias for an officer of a Russian security agency.

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Russia's foreign minister says they were ordinary officials on a routine trip.

A source told Bellingcat that Mishkin's grandmother had a photograph of him being presented the award by Putin himself.

A spokesman for the Home Office said "we are not commenting as this is still a police investigation".

In recent years the GRU has been accused of undercover involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, which saw Russian Federation annex Crimea in 2014.

Bellingcat's report said Mishkin moved to an "upscale" GRU-issued apartment in Moscow after he and Chepiga received their awards. As was the case in their investigation of Chepiga, Bellingcat said there was virtually no trace of Mishkin online.

The intelligence service provided Mishkin with a new identity and corresponding paperwork.

The latest development: Investigative group Bellingcat has revealed new information about a Russian doctor accused of the nerve agent poisoning in Britain in March.

The poison used, according to British authorities, was novichok, an especially risky nerve agent, and, analysts say, it was nearly certainly Mishkin's role to apply the poison, which is thought to have been smeared on the handle of Skripal's front-door.

Mr Grozev said that while Mishkin a had a "very sparse digital footprint" compared to Chepiga they had been able to piece together his identity using various databases, including telephone and vehicle insurance records.

Bellingcat cross-referenced this information with other leaked databases, including a auto insurance database which identified the same man as the driver of a Volvo registered to the GRU headquarters.

Last month, Mishkin was charged by the United Kingdom under the name Alexander Petrov as one of the suspects in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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