Second suspect in poisoning of ex-Russian spy named

An extensive investigation was launched into the nerve agent attack in Salisbury in March

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. Amy Kellogg has the story.

Two weeks ago, the British investigative website Bellingcat identified Boshirov at Anatoliy Chepiga, a high ranking colonel in the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, and on Monday evening, Bellingcat said Petrov is really Alexander Mishkin, a Russian doctor employed by GRU.

We have now identified "Alexander Petrov" to be in fact Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU.

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

Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in March.

Bellingcat earlier had published a similar report about the other suspect, known as Ruslan Boshirov, whom it said was a decorated special forces officer.

The reported naming of the second Novichok suspect is the latest embarrassment for Putin's intelligence services after a bungled cyber attack was exposed by Dutch investigators last week.

The group said it identified Mishkin through passport information, residents' databases, auto registration records and phone records, as well as personal testimony from people who know him.

Skripal is a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign spy service.

Further details of Bellingcat's investigation to unmask Mishkin will be released on Tuesday.

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

Alexander Mishkin current military rank is unknown.

Bellingcat said he made multiple trips to Ukraine.

The man is believed to have traveled to Ukraine on multiple occasions, including during the Maidan events in December 2013, also under the alias of Alexander Petrov, used during his Salisbury mission.

The Kremlin said it had been unable to find any record that Chepiga had been awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation decoration, despite it being referenced on Chepiga's military academy's website and engraved in gold on an honors wall there.

The suspects were identified as GRU agents and Theresa May said their actions were not a "rogue operation" and would have been approved at a senior level in Moscow.

Curiously, Mishkin's cover identity retained a lot of his authentic biography, including his real birth-date, his first and patronymic names, and the first names of his parents.

Officials in the Netherlands, where the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is based, said four Russians had been expelled after the alleged cyber strike. For several years he used, inexplicably say analysts, the address of the GRU headquarters as his home address.

Last week, the Justice Department filed criminal charges against seven members of the GRU, accusing them of hacking into the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well as four global sports governing bodies.

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