Suspect in Salisbury poisoning receives hero's honor in Russia, Bellingcat says

Suspect in Salisbury poisoning receives hero's honor in Russia, Bellingcat says

Sources familiar with Russian military intelligence said "a doctor would be a mandatory addition to a team tasked with poisoning a target - either for ensuring effective application of the chemical, or to protect team members from accidental self-poisoning".

He said: "It's easy to laugh at some of the GRU's poor tradecraft and their ability, but we should not underestimate them, nor indeed the unsafe and reckless use of nerve agent on our streets". In another report, Bellingcat established that "Petrov" was specifically working for Russia's military intelligence, the GRU. Last month, it said that Borishov's real identity is GRU Col. Anatoly Chepiga.

Despite the Bellingcat investigation appearing to have exposed the GRU, British security minister has warned against underestimating the threat of Russian Federation.

The two men were previously identified by British authorities under the pseudonyms they used to travel to the UK.

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

He said the reporters who visited Loyga in the remote Arkhangelsk district, they had drawn a blank when they tried to speak to Mishkin's grandmother. His grandmother was the village's only doctor.

Bellingcat said that Mishkin graduated from a military medical academy in St. Petersburg between 2003 and 2004, where he trained as doctor in the naval armed forces.

London police said they would not comment on speculation about the real identities of the two men facing charges, in response to a query about the latest Bellingcat report, and repeated they believed the men had used aliases.

A previous Bellingcat report revealed that "Petrov" also travelled to Amsterdam in 2016, as well as Kazakhstan, Tel Aviv, London, France and Switzerland - and to the United Kingdom for the attack on Skripal.

In 2014, he was active in military operations in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists lead a violent breakaway movement.

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Eliot Higgins, the citizen journalist who launched Bellingcat, told Sky News it was obvious from the start of their investigation that there was "something very suspicious" about Dr Mishkin and fellow suspect Anatoliy Chepiga.

They also had a passport dossier of "Petrov" including an earlier photo.

In contrast to Chepiga, Mishkin's cover identity retained most of his authentic biographical characteristics, such as the same birth date and first names of his parents.

Using open-source records such as leaked residential, telephone and vehicle databases, the Bellingcat probe found Mishkin was born in the remote village of Loyga in northern Russian Federation in 1979.

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

The name of the second suspect in the Salisbury case is actually Alexander Mishkin, the BBC understands.

A little-known website that fingered two Russians with military intelligence backgrounds in the poisoning of an ex-spy derived its name from an old fable about mice discussing how best to deal with a hungry cat.

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.

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