Researchers identify second suspect in nerve agent poisoning as Russian intel officer

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Suspects in Novichok poisonings say it's a fatal coincidence that they were in Salisbury.

Bellingcat said its "identification process included multiple open sources, testimony from people familiar with the person, as well as copies of personally identifying documents, including a scanned copy of his passport".

The other suspect also traveled to Salisbury, England, under an alias - Ruslan Boshirov - and is in fact a decorated Russian agent named Anatoliy Chepiga, Bellingcat reported last month.

Multiple sources told Bellingcat they saw on Mishkin's grandmother's mantle a photo of Putin bestowing the Hero of the Russian Federation award, given for service and valor, upon Mishkin.

This was later refuted by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said that Russian databases have no information about Chepiga or about a Chepiga being awarded the highest national merit.

One theory suggested by British intelligence was that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to publically punish the two men for both fumbling their assignment and getting caught.

FILE - A still image taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London Sept. 5, 2018, shows a man then identified as Alexander Petrov at Gatwick airport, England, March 2, 2018.

"This was also not a rogue operation".

Last week, authorities in the Netherlands alleged the GRU tried and failed into the world's chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a public bench in Salisbury, and the British authorities said they were sickened by a Soviet-made nerve agent.

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British lawmaker Bob Seely, a member of the British parliament's foreign affairs committee, said, "It is appalling that a medical doctor appears to have been part of a team of GRU operatives". But the nerve agent killed a British woman, Dawn Sturgess, and seriously sickened her partner.

Dr Alexander Mishkin, a 39-year-old trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU, was identified as the second suspect by the website.

Between 2011 and 2018 he travelled extensively under his new identity, Bellingcat said, including making frequent trips to Ukraine.

The suspect previously known as Alexander Petrov is actually Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor employed as an undercover officer for Russian military intelligence, known as GRU, citizen journalism agency Bellingcat reported.

'Interestingly, we have not seen her because the moment we announced this press conference today, the grandmother was asked to visit her children - Mr Mishkin's father and mother - in another town so she vanished from the village three days ago, ' he said.

Until September 2014 his registered home address in Moscow was the same as the headquarters of the GRU.

British Security Minister Ben Wallace warned Tuesday against underestimating Russian espionage. Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins said one ex-student told the group that classmates had "been told not to talk to anyone about his identity".

'But we should not underestimate them nor indeed the unsafe and reckless use of nerve agent on our streets.

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