Skripal attack: Bellingcat names second Salisbury suspect

Dr Alexander Mishkin, pictured in SeptemberImage copyright
Russia Today

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“Alexander Petrov” is actually a military doctor working for Russian intelligence, Bellingcat says

The name of the second suspect in the Salisbury case is actually Alexander Mishkin, the BBC understands.

The Bellingcat investigative website says the man who travelled under the alias Alexander Petrov is in reality a military doctor working for Russian intelligence, the GRU.

Last month, Bellingcat named the first suspect as Anatoliy Chepiga, a claim rejected by Russia.

Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March.

The British open-source website said it had identified the suspect using testimonies from people the suspect knew and a scanned copy of his passport.

It said both his real passport and the false passport he travelled to the UK on in the name of Alexander Petrov carried the same date of birth.

Bellingcat claims he was recruited by Russian intelligence while he was completing his medical studies, and made several trips to Ukraine, including during the 2013 unrest.

More details about how it uncovered the identity will be revealed on Tuesday, the website says.

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Bellingcat has issued three images of the man identified as Alexander Mishkin, including his passport image

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said the second suspect had a smaller digital footprint than the man named as Anatoliy Chepiga, but Bellingcat was eventually able to match photographs to put his identity together.

He said the revelation is more proof that the pair were not two sports nutritionists on a tourist visit to Salisbury, as they had claimed – and it raises more questions about the competence of the GRU.

  • Russian spy poisoning: What we know so far

A spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police said it would not comment on the “speculation”.

Sergei Skripal – who sold secrets to MI6 – and his daughter Yulia survived being poisoned with Novichok on 4 March.

The suspects are alleged to have smeared the nerve agent on a door handle of his home in Salisbury.

The attack left Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia critically ill, but Dawn Sturgess, 44, was later exposed to the same nerve agent and died in hospital.

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Metropolitan Police

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Police issued CCTV of the two suspects in Salisbury on the day of the attack on Sergei Skripal

The event sparked a series of accusations and denials between the UK and Russian governments, culminating in diplomatic expulsions and international sanctions.

Tory MP Bob Seely, a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said: “It is appalling that a medical doctor appears to have been part of a team of GRU operatives…

“Whilst this operation has been a botched embarrassment for the Kremlin from beginning to end, it’s worth remembering that we may not know about the GRU’s successful operations.”

Following the attempted poisoning, UK investigators said one of the two suspects had been travelling under the name Ruslan Boshirov.

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Media captionA BBC team showed photographs to residents in Anatoliy Chepiga’s old village, to see if they could identify him

In September, Bellingcat revealed he was actually an military intelligence officer named Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.

He has served in Chechnya and Ukraine and was made a “Hero of the Russian Federation” in 2014, the website said.

Bellingcat was founded in 2014 by British journalist Eliot Higgins, with the help of a crowd-funding campaign.

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