As reported by Censor.NET, Bellingcat has conclusively identified the second suspect, who travelled to Salisbury under the alias Alexander Petrov. In its previous reporting, Bellingcat already produced evidence that "Alexander Petrov" is not an authentic persona, but an undercover alias for an officer of a Russian security agency. In another report, Bellingcat established that "Petrov" was specifically working for Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU.
"Alexander Petrov" appears to be in fact Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU. Bellingcat’s 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 full identification process will be described in the upcoming full report.
The person travelling under the alias of Ruslan Boshirov was previously identified as GRU’s Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, recipient of Russia’s highest state award.
While Alexander Mishkin’s true persona has an even sparser digital footprint than Anatoliy Chepiga’s, Bellingcat has been able to establish certain key facts from his background.
Alexander Mishkin was born on 13.07.1979 in the village of Loyga, in the Archangelsk District in Northern European Russia. He studied and graduated from one of Russia’s elite Military Medical Academies, and was trained as a military doctor for the Russian naval armed forces.
During his medical studies, Mishkin was recruited by the GRU, and by 2010 had relocated to Moscow, where he received his undercover identity – including a second national ID and travel passport – under the alias Alexander Petrov.
In the period 2011-2018, Alexander Mishkin traveled extensively under his new identity. Bellingcat has identified multiple trips to Ukraine and to the self-declared Transnistrian Republic, the last of which as late as during the Maidan events in Kyiv in December 2013.
Unlike the case of Anatoliy Chepiga, "Petrov"’s cover identity retained most of the biographical characteristics of the authentic Mishkin – such as the exact birth date, first and patronymic name, and first names of his parents.
Until early September 2014, Mishkin’s registered home address in Moscow was Khoroshevskoe Shosse 76B – the address of the headquarters of the GRU. In the autumn of 2014, both Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga moved to upscale apartments.
Alexander Mishkin current military rank is unknown. However, based on the known rank as of graduation from the Military Medical Academy (Russian military doctors graduate with a rank of senior lieutenant), and the elapsed time (15 years), it can be posited that as the time of the Skripals’ poisoning incident he was either a Lt. Colonel or a full Colonel.
Bellingcat and the Insider have interviewed multiple sources familiar with Mishkin, both in St. Petersburg and in his native Loyga.
As reported, Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 67, and daughter Yulia Skripal, 34, were hospitalized in critical condition after they were found unconscious on a bench in the Wiltshire city on March 4 but both have recovered after weeks in the hospital. The UK government says they were poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russia called Novichok and PM Theresa May said she believed Moscow was "culpable."
A couple who authorities said found the perfume bottle after it was discarded by the attackers fared worse: Charlie Rowley recovered after treatment in the hospital but his partner, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died on July 8.
In an interview to the state-funded RT, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two Russians charged with perpetrating nerve agent attack in British Salisbury have claimed they were visiting the town's "famous" cathedral as tourists.
Petrov and Boshirov have been charged with attempting to murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripaland his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March by spraying Novichok nerve agent on the handle of their door. Scotland Yard have said these names are probably aliases.
A UK government spokesman rubbished the men's claims as "obfuscation and lies", while John Glen, the Conservative MP for Salisbury and South Wiltshire, called the statements "not credible".
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia knew the real identity of two men accused by British prosecutors of trying to murder Skripals and that they were civilians with nothing criminal about them.
Russia adamantly denies involvement in the poisoning, which had added to severe strains in ties between Russia and the West.
Putin's declaration came seven days after British authorities announced that they had charged two Russian men, identified as Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with carrying out the poisioning on March 4.
They accused the pair of smuggling the Soviet-designed nerve agent Novichok into Britain in a fake perfume flask and smearing some of the substance on the front door of Sergei Skripal's home in the English city of Salisbury, where the former GRU officer settled after being sent to the West in a Cold War-style spy swap in 2010.