Second Suspect Named in UK Nerve Agent Poisoning Case

By John Smithies, Epoch Times
October 9, 2018 Updated: September 28, 2019

LONDON—The second suspect in the UK nerve agent poisoning case has been named as military doctor Alexander Mishkin.

The investigative reporting website Bellingcat identified Mishkin, 39, and said he worked for Russia’s GRU intelligence service.

Last month, Mishkin was charged by the UK under the name Alexander Petrov as one of the suspects in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury.

Prosecutors charged Petrov and another man they named as Ruslan Boshirov with attempted murder for the attack that was carried out in March, although they said both men had used aliases.

Bellingcat previously identified Boshirov as a highly decorated colonel in the GRU whose real name is Anatoliy Chepgia.

Bellingcat said Petrov’s full name is Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin. In identifying him, they said they used “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.”

One person contacted by Bellingcat said they had been at college with Mishkin and had recognized him from the Russia Today interview with the two spies. They said many graduates from Mishkin’s class had been contacted by Russian security services who had told them not to reveal Mishkin’s identity.

British police refused to comment on speculation about the real identities of the two men, according to Reuters.

Russian Denials

Russia denies their involvement in the poisoning and claims the two men were just tourists who visited Salisbury to see its cathedral.

In a statement, the UK Russian Embassy also refused to comment on speculation as to “Petrov’s” real identity, but it did imply that NGOs like Bellingcat have “obvious ties with secret services.”

“The Russian side will be ready to discuss both this information and other outstanding issues with the British authorities through official channels if we receive a respective request from London,” a press officer said in the statement.

Mishkin was born in 1979 in the village of Loyga in northeastern Russia, Bellingcat said. He graduated from one of Russia’s elite military medical academies and was recruited into the GRU during his studies.

By 2010, he had moved to Moscow and taken on his undercover identity as Alexander Petrov, traveling extensively between 2011 and 2018 to places like Ukraine and Moldova’s breakaway territory of Transdniestria.

Unlike the previous GRU agent Bellingcat identified, Mishkin’s cover of Petrov retained most biographical characteristics of Mishkin, such as his birth date and first names of his parents.

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

His current military rank isn’t known but Bellingcat speculates that, based on his 15-year service, he should be a lieutenant colonel or full colonel.

A journalist from The Insider visited the village of Loyga and reportedly met many residents who remembered Mishkin and positively identified him as “Alexander Petrov” from the Russia Today interview.

Alexander Petrov is shown on CCTV at Gatwick airport
Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspect Alexander Petrov is shown on CCTV at Gatwick airport on March 2, released on Sept. 5, 2018 in London. (Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)

Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a public bench in Salisbury, and the case prompted the biggest East-West diplomatic expulsions since the Cold War.

A woman later died from Novichok poisoning after her partner found a counterfeit perfume bottle, which police believe had been used to smuggle the nerve agent into Britain.

British authorities were quick to identify the perpetrators as Russian GRU agents.

On Oct. 4, the intelligence agency was accused by various Western countries of orchestrating global cyberattacks.

The GRU used a network of hackers across the world to attack a wide range of targets, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Netherlands, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow John on Twitter: @jdsmithies
RECOMMENDED