Second Skripal poisoning suspect is Russian GRU agent: Bellingcat

Investigative webiste Bellingcat on Oct 8, 2018 claims it has identified Alexander Petrov (right) as Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, allegedly a trained military doctor employed with the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. On  Sept 28, 2018, Be
Investigative webiste Bellingcat on Oct 8, 2018 claims it has identified Alexander Petrov (right) as Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, allegedly a trained military doctor employed with the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. On Sept 28, 2018, Bellingcat had claimed the suspect Ruslan Boshirov's identity was GRU officer Anatoliy Chepiga.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (AFP) - Investigative group Bellingcat on Monday (Oct 8) identified the second suspect in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal as a trained military doctor employed by Russia's GRU military intelligence agency.

"We have now identified 'Alexander Petrov' to be in fact Dr Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU," the British-based group said in a report published on its website.

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by a Soviet-designed chemical agent called Novichok in the English town of Salisbury in March.

Britain accuses the Russian government of trying to kill Skripal in retribution for his ongoing work with European intelligence agencies.

Russia flatly rejects the charge.

The Skripal case and last week's revelations that the GRU also allegedly tried to hack into the world's chemical weapons watchdog in the Netherlands have further tattered Moscow's strained ties with the West.

Bellingcat has long been a thorn in the Kremlin's side having detailed its alleged crimes in Syria and Ukraine.

It worked with the Russian investigative team at The Insider to name the first of the two Skripal suspects as GRU agent Anatoly Chepiga.

Bellingcast said Chepiga was decorated in 2014 with the nation's top award in a secret ceremony at the Kremlin.

"While Alexander Mishkin's true persona has an even sparser digital footprint than Anatoliy Chepiga's, Bellingcat has been able to establish certain key facts from his background," it wrote.

The group showed an alleged copy of his real national ID card - called a passport in Russia - from 2001.

He was identified there as having been born in July 1979 in the northwestern region of Arkhangelsk.

Bellingcat said Mishkin graduated from one of Russia's elite Military Medical Academies with the qualification to become a doctor for the Russian naval armed forces.

"During his medical studies, Mishkin was recruited by the GRU, and by 2010 had relocated to Moscow, where he received his undercover identity - including a second national ID and travel passport - under the alias Alexander Petrov," Bellingcat said.