Suspect in Salisbury poisoning receives hero's honor in Russia, Bellingcat says

Reuters

Reuters

The second suspect in the Salisbury poisoning case was a doctor and highly decorated Russian military intelligence officer, an investigative website says.

On Monday, Bellingcat reported that the real name of "Petrov" is Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, "a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU". Last month, it said that Borishov's real identity is GRU Col. Anatoly Chepiga. British officials have not disputed the claim, though they have not yet publicly confirmed it. Moscow, which denies involvement in the poisoning, declined to comment. In the past, the group has focused on the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine and chemical attacks in Syria.

"Bellingcat's identification process included multiple open sources, testimony from people familiar with the person, as well as copies of personally identifying documents, including a scanned copy of his passport", the website said.

Bellingcat's report said Mishkin moved to an "upscale" GRU-issued apartment in Moscow after he and Chepiga received their awards.

Releasing details about its latest findings on October 9, Bellingcat said that Aleksandr Mishkin was decorated at around the same time as Anatoly Chepiga in 2014 - the year Russian Federation seized Crimea and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, helping start a war that has killed more than 10,300 people.

Putin has previously revealed his pride in - and close personal oversight of - the Russian special forces operation that snatched the fleeing pro-Russian Yanukovych out of Ukraine in early 2014 when local authorities were seeking to arrest him. The same year, he was given Russia's highest honour.

Nina Mishkina, now in her 90s, proudly showed to friends a photograph of her grandson shaking hands with the Russian president at the event.

A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refused to comment on the Bellingcat report. He reiterated Tuesday the government's claim that Britain had stonewalled Russian requests to share details of the probe.

The use of a banned nerve agent produced by the Soviet Union during the Cold War in a small English city has focused attention on the GRU, a Russian military intelligence unit that Western officials say is linked to a number of recent computer security hacks. In June, two area residents who apparently came across a discarded vial that contained the poison fell ill; one of them died.

Putin reportedly met with Korobov and other senior GRU staff at the Russian Defence Ministry on Saturday to air his frustration with botched spy missions. They said they were tourists who had flown to London for fun and visited Salisbury to see its cathedral.

Among targets of the GRU attacks were the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), transport systems in Ukraine, and democratic elections, such as the 2016 U.S. presidential race, according to the NCSC.

Last week, authorities in the Netherlands alleged the GRU tried and failed into the world's chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Last week the U.S. Department of Justice indicted seven named GRU officers on charges they had hacked worldwide organizations, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

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