By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) – The real identity of the second suspect in the Salisbury nerve agent attack this March, which targeted former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, was revealed on Monday by an investigative website.
The Bellingcat website and its associate Insider claimed that the person who was identified by British authorities as Alexander Petrov was indeed a military doctor, Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin from the Russian military intelligence service GRU.
Bellingcat said the 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.”
In September, the website identified the first suspect, who travelled to Salisbury under the name of Ruslan Boshirov, as a GRU colonel, Anatoliy Chepiga, a recipient of Russia’s highest state award.
In the period 2011-2018, Mishkin traveled extensively under his new identity, according to Bellingcat's report.
The website also said it has identified multiple trips to Ukraine and to the self-declared Transnistrian Republic, within Moldova, the last of which as late as during the December 2013 Maidan events in Kiev.
It also said a full report, to be published tomorrow, will contain "forensic evidence" of the visual (facial) match between “Alexander Mishkin” and “Alexander Petrov.”
-Wanted for conspiracy to murder
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in September said "Boshirov" and Petrov were wanted for conspiracy to murder Sergei Skripal and the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and police officer Nick Bailey this March.
In an interview with Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian TV outlet RT, the men confirmed they were the people identified by the U.K. investigators but claimed they were coincidentally in Salisbury at the time as tourists.
A British government spokesman rejected this account, saying: “The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service ‘The GRU’ who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country.”
Sergei Skripal and his daughter were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on March 4 in Salisbury. They have both since been discharged from the hospital.
Police officer Bailey, who was among the first to respond to the incident, also received treatment after being poisoned.
Sergei Skripal was granted refuge in the U.K. following a 2010 spy exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Before the exchange, he had been serving a 13-year prison term for leaking information to British intelligence.
In another incident, British authorities say involved the same nerve agent in Amesbury, a woman died and a man fell seriously ill.
Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill on June 30 after handling an item contaminated with the nerve agent and was taken to a hospital, and her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, was also exposed to the nerve agent and taken to hospital in a critical condition.
The Metropolitan Police continue a murder investigation into the death of Sturgess.