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

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

Mr Wallace was speaking as the second suspect in the Salisbury nerve agent attack was revealed to be a highly decorated officer in Russian military intelligence. Amy Kellogg has the story.

The site announced today that the man identified as Alexander Petrov (on the right above) is actually a military doctor named Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin who works with Russia's intelligence service, the GRU.

Bellingcat alleges Mishkin traveled under the name Alexander Petrov when he and GRU Col. Anatoliy Chepiga traveled to the southern English city of Salisbury in March, where the agents allegedly poisoned the Skripals with the nerve agent, novichok.

Dr Mishkin was then recruited by the secretive GRU, where he was given the undercover identity of Alexander Petrov.

The two suspects in the attempted assassination of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal were originally named by the United Kingdom authorities as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov - although it was made clear that the names were aliases. The British government has blamed Russian Federation for the attack.

Bellingcat says it "conclusively identified" Mishkin from "multiple open sources, testimony from people familiar with the person, as well as copies of personally identifying documents", including his passport.

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

Mishkin traveled extensively under the name Petrov between 2011 and 2018, including multiple trips to Ukraine and to the self-declared Transnistrian Republic, Bellingcat reported.

Unlike the case of Anatoliy Chepiga, "Petrov"'s cover identity retained most of the biographical characteristics of the authentic Mishkin - such as the exact birth date, first and patronymic name, and first names of his parents.

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

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.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the men were civilians who did nothing criminal, and urged them to speak to news outlets.

Last week, authorities in the Netherlands alleged that the GRU had tried and failed to hack the world's chemical weapons watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins said one ex-student told the group that classmates had "been told not to talk to anyone about his identity".

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

The U.S. Justice Department also charged seven GRU officers in an alleged worldwide 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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