World News

Researchers identify second suspect in nerve agent poisoning as Russian intel officer

Researchers identify second suspect in nerve agent poisoning as Russian intel officer

The Bellingcat journalist investigations website last night named Alexander Mishkin, a 39-year-old military doctor working for Russia's GRU intelligence service, as one of the two men who had travelled to Britain in March to try to murder Sergei Skripal, the former Russian double agent.

Two weeks ago, the British investigative website Bellingcat identified Boshirov at Anatoliy Chepiga, a high ranking colonel in the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, and on Monday evening, Bellingcat said Petrov is really Alexander Mishkin, a Russian doctor employed by GRU. There was no immediate comment on the Bellingcat report by either the Russian or British governments.

According to a new report released by Bellingcat, Dr Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin was handed a Hero of Russian Federation award in late 2014 for his service in Ukraine, where Mr Putin's troops are accused of backing pro-Moscow rebels fighting government forces.

Bellingcat became a thorn in the Kremlin's side by detailing its alleged crimes during the wars in Syria and Ukraine.

After Britain charged the two Russians with trying to kill the Skripals, the suspects appeared on Russian TV to deny a role in the Salisbury poisonings. They said they were tourists who had flown to London for fun and visited Salisbury to see its cathedral.

A spokesperson for London's Metropolitan Police said they would not comment on the "speculation". United Kingdom officials says they were poisoned with a nerve agent administered by Russian intelligence officers.

The two survived after a lengthy hospital stay in intensive care.

A woman later died from Novichok poisoning after her partner found a counterfeit perfume bottle which police believe had been used to smuggle the nerve agent into Britain.

The identification of Mishkin is a further embarrassment for the GRU after the British and Dutch authorities last week exposed its failed attempt to hack the computers of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was helping to identify the nerve agent used against the Skripals.

As with Chepiga, Bellingcat said it had identified Mishkin by obtaining his personal documents from anonymous sources and tracing his background through open source records, as well as testimonies from people who knew him.

Alexander Mishkin was born on July 13, 1979, in the village of Loyga, in the Archangelsk District in Northern European Russia.

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

The unmasking of a second Russian intelligence officer suspected of carrying out a nerve-agent attack in England earlier this year is prompting behind-the-scenes fury in the Kremlin, which is likely to respond by purging the senior ranks of Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU, Russian media is reporting.

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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