Second Salisbury suspect identified

Reuters

The two suspects explain on Russia Today why they were in SalisburyReuters

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This man, a military doctor employed by the intelligence military Russian (GRU), had been identified by Bellingcat Monday, as Alexander Evguenievitch Michkine.

Three images provided by Bellingcat of Alexander Mishkin.

British officials said when they brought charges against two Russians in the March nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter that they believed Petrov was an assumed name.

Bellingcat made waves late last month when it said that Chepiga was the true identity of the other suspect, who had a passport in the name of Ruslan Boshirov, and that he was a GRU colonel decorated with the Hero award.

As reported, on October 8 Bellingcat and The Insider reported the real name and surname Aleksandr Petrov, who is accused of involvement in the poisoning of Sergey and Julia the Violinist in Britain.

One theory suggested by British intelligence was that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to publicly punish the two men for both fumbling their assignment and getting caught.

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

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.

Bellingcat said that "Petrov" had visited Ukraine a number of times, including during times of increased tension with Russian Federation ahead of Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Security analysts and others dismissed their explanation as absurd.

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

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Putin has insisted that the two men identified by Britain as poisoning the Skripals were ordinary Russian civilians.

Skripal and his daughter were found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury on March 4, a day after Yulia Skripal had arrived from Moscow to tell her father she planned to marry.

While the Skripals survived the attack, a woman died on June 30 after her partner picked up a discarded bottle of perfume containing the nerve agent that United Kingdom inspectors think was used to smuggle in the Novichok.

The case has caused a serious diplomatic crisis between the Kremlin and the west.

According to Bellingcat, Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin was born in 1979. He trained as a military doctor for the Russian naval armed forces, and was recruited by the GRU during his medical studies.

Until September 2014, his home address was registered as the Moscow headquarters of the GRU.

Bellingcat said it identified Mishkin using passport information, phone records, auto registration records, other databases and interviews with people who knew him.

Mishkin's GRU rank was unknown, it added, but based on his 15-year service was likely to be lieutenant colonel or colonel.

By 2010, he had moved to Moscow and taken on his undercover identity as Alexander Petrov, traveling extensively between 2011 and 2018 to places like Ukraine and Moldova's breakaway territory of Transdniestria.

British, Dutch and US officials have accused the GRU of trying to hack the computers of worldwide agencies, masterminding a devastating 2017 cyberattack on Ukraine and being behind stolen emails that roiled the 2016 USA presidential election.

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