Russian military doctor named as suspect in Salisbury nerve attack

Police at the scene after the attack for which Dr Alexander Mishkin, inset, is said to be a suspect. Picture: PA
Police at the scene after the attack for which Dr Alexander Mishkin, inset, is said to be a suspect. Picture: PA
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A military doctor employed by Russia’s GRU intelligence agency was one of the two suspects accused of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack, an investigatory website has claimed.

The two suspects in the attempted assassination of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal were originally named by the UK authorities as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, although it was made clear the names were aliases.

The suspect identified as Petrov was actually Dr Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, the Bellingcat group has said.

The 39-year-old graduated from one of Russia’s elite Military Medical Academies, the group’s website said.

During his studies he was recruited by the GRU military intelligence agency.

He had relocated to Moscow by 2010 where he received his undercover identity, including a second national ID and travel passport, under the alias Alexander Petrov.

Bellingcat has already identified Boshirov as Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga – a highly-decorated officer in the GRU.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We are not commenting as this is still a police investigation.”

The site reports Mishkin is 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 coming full report. The prime suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attack had claimed they visited Salisbury as tourists during an interview with state-funded news channel RT, formerly known as Russia Today.

The pair claimed they have been left fearing for their lives after Britain pointed to their involvement.

UK authorities believe the pair smeared the highly toxic chemical Novichok on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of Mr Skripal, leaving the former Russian agent and his daughter Yulia critically ill.

Chepiga acknowledged they may have been near Mr Skripal’s house, but they did not know where it was. President Vladimir Putin said at the time the men had been discounted as members of his security network.

Officers formally linked the attack on the Skripals to events in nearby Amesbury where Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the same nerve agent.

Ms Sturgess died in hospital in July, just over a week after the pair fell ill.

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt warned last week Moscow could face further sanctions in the wake of “hard evidence” the Russian military was behind a string of cyber attacks.