Salisbury poisoning: Suspect Alexander Mishkin was 'honoured by Vladimir Putin'

Salisbury poisoning: Suspect Alexander Mishkin was 'honoured by Vladimir Putin'

Salisbury poisoning: Suspect Alexander Mishkin was 'honoured by Vladimir Putin'

Amy Kellogg has the story.

One of the two suspects in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain was an intelligence operative who was personally decorated as a hero by President Vladimir Putin after conducting covert operations in Ukraine, investigative group Bellingcat said on Tuesday.

Bellingcat alleges Mishkin traveled under the name Alexander Petrov when he and GRU Col. Anatoliy Chepiga traveled to the southern English city of Salisbury in March, where the agents allegedly poisoned the Skripals with the nerve agent, novichok. He and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a public bench in Salisbury, and the British authorities said they were sickened by a Soviet-made nerve agent.

Bellingcat last month identified Boshirov as a colonel in the GRU whose real name was Anatoliy Chepiga.

Former British foreign secretary William Hague says the revelations by Bellingcat and others on the GRU assassination attempt have "illuminated the duplicity of the endless denials" by the Kremlin of any Russian involvement in the murder bid. 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.

The second man believed to be behind a nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England, has been identified as a Russian military doctor.

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.

Security services in the Netherlands also published extensive materials on the operation targeting the OPCW, releasing pictures of the alleged agents and their equipment.

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

The Kremlin denies everything, calling it a Western smear campaign against Vladimir Putin's resurgent Russian Federation.

He moved to St Petersburg and enrolled at the S Kirov Military Medical Academy, specialising in undersea and hypobaric medicine for the Russian navy and graduating as a senior lieutenant.

In this file grab taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on September 5, 2018, Ruslan Boshirov and "Alexander Petrov" walk on Fisherton Road, Salisbury, England, March 4, 2018.

"It really started when the identities were revealed by the British authorities, that gave us our first clue, and from there we were able to find their fake identity documents", he said.

Villagers said Mishkin's grandmother has a photo of him being honored by Putin.

Bellingcat traced him via passport info, residents' databases, vehicle registration records, and phone databases.

The investigators obtained a 15-year old passport belonging to Mishkin, and found the picture had a strong resemblance to "Petrov".

This was later refuted by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said that Russian databases have no information about Chepiga or about a Chepiga being awarded the highest national merit.

The four were arrested, and Dutch authorities revealed last week how they found a auto full of hacking equipment near the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.

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