United Kingdom poison suspect is doctor for Russian intelligence

United Kingdom poison suspect is doctor for Russian intelligence

Skripal and his daughter Yulia narrowly survived the attack, but a local woman, Dawn Sturgess later died after being accidentally exposed to the chemical weapon.

Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspect Alexander Petrov is shown on CCTV at Gatwick airport on March 2, released on September 5, 2018 in London. 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.

Higgins and Grozev said that Mishkin was made a Hero of the Russian Federation - the country's highest honorary title - by Putin in the autumn of 2014.

Mishkin was recruited by the secretive GRU and stationed in Moscow, where he was given the undercover identity of Alexander Petrov, the investigative group said.

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".

Bellingcat said it reached out to hundreds of fellow graduates from the academy, and two recalled Mishkin, but added that all of the class had been contacted recently and told not to speak about him.

They have cited a photo showing the Russian president to shake her hand and exhibited by the grand-mother of the suspect to the inhabitants of the village of Loyga, in the north of Russia, where he grew up. But the latest revelations seemed to once again undercut Russia's denial that it was involved in the Salisbury poisonings.

In an interview with Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian TV outlet RT, the men confirmed they were the people identified by the United Kingdom investigators but claimed they were coincidentally in Salisbury at the time as tourists. While the men were identified as GRU officers, their true names were not disclosed.

British police believe Skripal his daughter first came into contact with a military-grade nerve agent at their front door
Frank Augstein AP

Chepiga, 39, had been assigned the alter ego of Boshirov by 2010, Bellingcat said.

Police officers stand outside the house of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, March 6, 2018.

British authorities allege that the two Russians smeared a Soviet-designed nerve agent called Novichok on the front door of Skripal's home in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, the day the former spy and his daughter were found incapacitated on a bench and rushed to the hospital. But Mishkin's cover identity had retained key details from his real identity, including his date of birth, as well as his first name and patronymic - a middle name based on a person's father's name, a practice that is common among Russians.

Until 2014, Mishkin's registered home address in Moscow was Khoroshevskoe Shosse 76B, the same address as GRU headquarters, Bellingcat said in its report.

A journalist from The Insider visited the village of Loyga and reportedly met many residents who remembered Mishkin and positively identified him as "Alexander Petrov" from the Russia Today interview.

Between 2011 and 2018 he travelled extensively under his new identity, Bellingcat said, including making frequent trips to Ukraine.

The West has accused Russia's military intelligence agency of running what it described as a global hacking campaign, targeting institutions from sports anti-doping bodies to a nuclear power company and the chemical weapons watchdog.

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