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Second Skripal attack suspect identified as Russian military doctor in report

Second Skripal attack suspect identified as Russian military doctor in report
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The online investigative group Bellingcat has identified the second Russian intelligence officer suspected in the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal as Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor. 

Bellingcat released a report Monday identifying Mishkin, roughly a month after the United Kingdom charged two Russian intelligence officers in the attempted murder of Skripal. At the time, the U.K. identified the Russians as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, though authorities noted that the names were likely aliases the pair used to travel internationally as part of their work for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service. 

“We have now identified ‘Alexander Petrov’ to be in fact Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU,” Bellingcat wrote in the report Monday. 

“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 report said. “The full identification process will be described in the upcoming full report.”

Bellingcat had already identified the first Russian intelligence officer as Ruslan Boshirov. Miskin was allegedly recruited by the GRU while studying at one of Russia’s military medical academies and began traveling under the Petrov identity in 2011. 

Skripal, a former GRU agent who was recruited as a spy for Britain in the 1990s, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury this past March. 

In early September, the U.K. charged the two Russians in the attack, identifying them as active members of the GRU. 

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on Moscow for the poisoning and along with other Western allies expelled dozens of individuals identified as Russian intelligence officers. 

The GRU has increasingly made headlines in recent months. Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE in July indicted 12 GRU officers for hacking the Democratic National Committee and U.S. voting systems as part of a broader plot to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

And last week, the U.S. indicted seven GRU officials for conducting a global cyberattack campaign, including several implicated in a foiled plot to hack a chemical weapons watchdog at The Hague. The GRU agents allegedly targeted the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was studying the nerve agent used on Skripal.