- The second man believed to be behind a nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England, has been identified as a Russian military doctor.
- Investigative news outlet Bellingcat has tracked down what it says are the true identities of the two suspects, who claim they were only tourists.
- The attack, which targeted ex-spy Sergei Skripal, is believed to have been ordered by senior Russian leadership.
The second man accused of being behind the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal has been identified as a Russian military doctor employed by the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service.
The UK in early September accused two Russian men,Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of attempting to assassinate ex-spy Sergei Skripal with a military-grade nerve agent in Salisbury, England in March 2018. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the names were most likely aliases.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government has long denied having any knowledge of the attack, initially claimed that the two men’s names “mean nothing to us,” then said that they were civilians.
Petrov and Boshirov even appeared on Russian TV to say they were visiting Salisbury as tourists.
But investigative journalism site Bellingcat has dug into the backgrounds of “Petrov” and “Boshirov,” and says it has identified both men’s true identities and that they work for the GRU.
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.”
Mishkin trained as a military doctor before joining the GRU, moving to Moscow in 2010, and being assigned the undercover identity of Alexander Petrov, Bellingcat says, citing both public documents and unnamed sources.
In late September, Bellingcat reported that “Boshirov” is actually Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU, Russia’s intelligence service.
Chepiga, 39, had been assigned the alter ego of Boshirov by 2010, Bellingcat said. This was the name used in his passport when he travelled to the UK earlier this year.
Bellingcat’s findings also cast doubt on Russia’s claims that Boshirov and Petrov were civilians and that the government had no knowledge of the Skripal attack.
The findings are also in line with the British government’s claim, citing security and intelligence agencies’ investigations, that Boshirov and Petrov were officers from Russia’s intelligence services.
May has also said that authorization for the attack “almost certainly” came from senior members of the Russian government.
The UK has issued international arrest warrants for the two men, London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed in a statement to Business Insider. However, Russia does not extradite its nationals.
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