Second Sergei Skripal 'poisoner' identified as Russian military doctor

Reuters

The second suspect in the Salisbury poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal is a decorated Russian agent who received a top honour from Vladimir Putin, an investigative website has said. Amy Kellogg has the story.

UK-based "investigative" group Bellingcat claims one of the the men accused by the United Kingdom authorities of being involved in the Salisbury poisoning affair is known as Aleksandr Petrov and is a doctor working for Russian intelligence.

The organization added that The Insider, Bellingcat's investigative partner in Russia, sent a reporter to the northern Russian village of Loyga, where at least seven people recognized photos of the man identified initially as Petrov as "our local boy" Mishkin.

According to Bellingcat, the 39-year-old - previously identified by the government by the alias Alexander Petrov - graduated from the Military Medical Academy in St Petersburg in 2003 where he was recruited by the GRU.

It's being reported that one of the Russian spies who poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was a doctor who'd been personally honoured by President Putin.

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

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.

Today's report is really just an announcement that the full report explaining in detail how the site identified Mishkin will be published tomorrow.

The father and daughter survived after a lengthy hospital stay in intensive care. The British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after unwittingly spraying the novichok on her wrists.

Dr Mishkin was born in July 1979 in the village of Loyga in the Archangelsk district of northern Russian Federation, and until September 2014 his registered home address in Moscow was the same as the headquarters of the GRU, Bellingcat said. Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins said one ex-student told the group that classmates had "been told not to talk to anyone about his identity".

Speaking on Russian TV last month, that suspect said he was a civilian who had visited Salisbury as a tourist.

He had climbed the ranks of the GRU after graduating from the a military medical academy no later than 2001, and relocated to Moscow at some point between 2007 and 2010.

Bellingcat said that sources who knew Mishkin's family said they believed he had been given the award for actions in Crimea, or for being part of a special forces unit that helped Ukraine's pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych flee the country after he was toppled from power.

Until early September 2014, Mishkin's registered home address in Moscow was Khoroshevskoe Shosse 76B - the address of the headquarters of the GRU.

The U.S. Justice Department also charged seven GRU officers in an alleged global hacking rampage that targeted more than 250 athletes, a Pennsylvania-based nuclear energy company, a Swiss chemical laboratory and the chemical weapons watchdog.

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