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Skripal Poisoning Suspect’s Passport Data Shows Link to Security Services

September 14, 2018

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Translations: Русский

Read The Insider Russian report on this same topic here.

An ongoing Bellingcat investigation conducted jointly with The Insider Russia has confirmed through uncovered passport data that the two Russian nationals identified by UK authorities as prime suspects in the Novichok poisonings on British soil are linked to Russian security services. This finding directly contradicts claims by the Russian president on 12 September 2018, and by the two men in an interview broadcast on RT one day later, that they are civilians who traveled to Salisbury for a tourist getaway.

Original Russian documents reviewed by Bellingcat and The Insider confirm definitively that the two men were registered in the central Russian resident database under the names Alexander Yevgenievich Petrov and Ruslan Timurovich Boshirov, respectively, and were issued internal passports under these names in 2009. However, no records exist for these two personas prior to 2009. This suggests the two names were likely cover identities for operatives of one of the Russian security services. Crucially, at least one man’s passport files contain various “top-secret” markings, which, according to at least two sources consulted by Bellingcat, are typically reserved for members of secret services or top state operatives.

These findings, along with peculiarities in the two men’s bookings of their flight to London, make Russia’s official statements that Petrov and Boshirov are civilian tourists implausible, and corroborate UK authorities’ claims that they are in fact officers of a Russian security service.

Last-minute travel plans

Aeroflot’s passenger manifest, reviewed by Bellingcat and The Insider, discredits Petrov and Boshirov’s claims, made in the RT interview, that they had been planning their visit to Salisbury for a long time. The manifest records the times of booking, check-in, and boarding of each passenger. In the case of the two suspects, they made their initial booking – and checked in online – at 20:00 GMT (22:00 Moscow time) on 1 March 2018, the night before their short trip to London and Salisbury.

(Click the manifest below to view it in full resolution)

The two suspects flew back to Moscow on 4 March 2018, having taken two trips to Salisbury both on March 3rd and March 4th, the day on which the Skripals were poisoned.

An Extraordinary Passport File

Bellingcat and The Insider have reviewed original records from the central Russian passport and residential registration database and have identified the passport files belonging to the two suspects.

The person using the name Alexander Petrov does in fact have a passport file, under the name Alexander Yevgenievich Petrov, born on 13 July 1979 in Kotlas, a small town in northern Russia. The birth date coincides with that of the Alexander Petrov who flew on Aeroflot flight SU2588 on 2 March 2018, as seen in the passenger manifest reviewed by Bellingcat.

This person’s domestic passport photo matches the photos released by the UK authorities and the face of the person calling himself Alexander Petrov in the RT interview.

Mr. Petrov’s passport file contains peculiarities that are not found in any other passport file reviewed by Bellingcat and The Insider in this and prior investigations.

Born in 2009?

First, this person’s file lacks any history of address registrations or previous identification documents issued prior to 2009. A standard passport file – such as the files of the other 3 Russian citizens bearing the name Alexander Petrov and born on 13 July 1979, all of which were reviewed by Bellingcat and the Insider before identifying the person of interest – contain a history of previous, expired ID documents (called domestic passports), international passports issued to the person (both expired and current), as well as previous address registrations. The first – and only – Russian ID document listed for Mr. Petrov under his file is an internal passport (mandatory for Russian citizens over the age of 14) issued on 26 November 2009, and valid until today. The passport file contains a field called “reason for issue of document”, which typically lists the previous (expired) ID document that the current one substitutes. In Mr. Petrov’s case, the reason for issuance of the new passport is listed simply as “Unsuitable for usage”, a marking typically used when a previous passport has been damaged or found to contain invalid data. A hand-written note in Petrov’s file makes a reference to a pre-existing national passport issued in St. Petersburg in 1999. However, no record of such a passport number exists in the central passport database.

“Do not provide any information”

Alexander Petrov’s passport dossier is marked with a stamp containing the instruction “Do not provide any information”.  This stamp does not exist in standard civilian passport files. A source working in the Russian police force who regularly works with the central database confirmed to Bellingcat and The Insider that they have never seen such a stamp on any passport form in their career.  That source surmised that this marking reserved for operatives of the state under deep cover.

Adding additional credence to the hypothesis that Alexander Petrov’s persona is a cover identity comes from another page in his passport file, which is reserved for input of biographical data. In Mr. Petrov’s case, this page is left blank, and in addition to the same stamp “Do not provide information”, a hand-written note is added with the text “There is a letter. S.S.”. Per the same source interviewed for this story, S.S. is a common abbreviation for “sovershenno sekretno”, Russian for “top secret”.

Another clue pointing to the non-civilian status of Mr. Petrov is the absence from his passport file of any information about his international passport, which he used to travel to the United Kingdom. The passport number is listed in the Aeroflot passenger manifest reviewed by Bellingcat. However, the passport file shows no international passport belonging to Alexander Petrov, in contrast with regular practice – under which the file contains a list of all government-issued ID documents, both national and international passports, expired and currently valid.

(Click the passport data below to view it in full resolution)

The Russian media outlet Fontanka has previously published information on Boshirov and Petrov’s passport files, indicating that they were separated by only 3 digits (-1294 and -1297), meaning that they were issued at nearly the same time. Bellingcat and The Insider also reviewed passport data for the other two individuals to whom those two passports were issued, with the the passport numbers ending in -1295 and -1296. These two individuals also had peculiar passport dossiers, with incomplete or time-capped data, similar to Alexander Petrov’s passport file. Additionally, Fontanka noted that Petrov and Boshirov bought two separate return flights back to Moscow on March 4. Additional information on these findings, along with other discoveries related to Boshirov and Petrov, will be published on Bellingcat’s site next week.

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454 Comments

  1. Brad

    Many asking why the traces of Novichok found in the hotel room remained after cleaning, and why no one at the hotel has been poisoned.

    We can now detect very tiny traces of substances, even down to the molecular level.

    Novichok needs to be inhaled in quantity or contact with skin. The traces detected would not cause damage.

    Novichok is very, very rare.

    Reply
        • FreedomVoice

          Although it is very questionable, I can agree that Russia had somekind of motive and means. But on my opinion UK had stronger motive. They wanted persuade Europe to more sanctions against Russia despite economy issues for Europe.

          I still don’t get why everyone concluded it was Russia.

          Reply
          • Brad

            @Freedom v

            The uk has absolutely zero motive to harm Skripal, particularly if he was indeed still working for MI6 and/ or had been active in Spain against Russian ‘mafia’, as others suggest.

            Revenge and punishment for state treason by a secret service spy is probably the biggest motive ever possible in any country and at any time. Putin’s anger against traitors in 2010 at the time of the spy swop is entirely reasonable and measured, if a little emotional.

            Sanctions against Russia are of zero benefit to the uk, eu or even the USA, as even Putin has admitted. Damage to trade is mutual.

            Indeed Europe needs cheap Russian gas.

            On true Business and trade terms, Russia has been a reliable partner, and is one of those emerging markets that Brexit Britain will need to engage with. Good luck with that.

          • Brad

            Putin was and is also annoyed that rich Russians and Russian criminals seek safe haven in the U.K., avoiding Russian law.

            He has a point.

            There’s also wider, hazier issues surrounding NATO and the EU.

            Again, P is quite right to object to NATO closing in on Russian borders.

          • FreedomVoice

            You are wrong.

            Usefulness of Scripal working on MI6 is nothing comparing to using its death to rationalize sanctions. Russian economy is smaller than US + EU. So mutual damage for Russia is harder which is good for US and EU.

            Anyway, there is no any factual evidence of Russian involvment

          • Brad

            @Freedom v

            How are sanctions against Russia to the benefit of the uk?

            Please explain.

            What’s the size of the economies got to do with it?

            Do you really think that putting sanctions on Russia gives the uk a motive to kill a uk spy asset (a traitor to Russia that Putin has warned).?

            Funny.

          • Brad

            Freedom,

            If what you say is true, why wouldn’t the uk, USA, eu just avoid Russia altogether, like North Korea?

            Why would we need a reason to strike sanctions?

            Laughable bollox from you.

          • fuckyourcensorship

            at least this kremlin swine has a somewhat better command of the English language.

          • FreedomVoice

            By the way, you live and exist thanks to “Kremlin swines” that saved your eropean asses in 1940s

          • Francois Labelle

            Troll…give us all a break! Read on Ribbentrop-Molotov treacherous pact where Russian Army carved Eastern Europe with Hitler… Poland Russian massacre of Polish intelligentsia at Katin forest… Invasion of Baltics, Finland and sending raw material to the Whermach war effort until the end, Russia paraded together with the Nazi in Poland…America had nuclear power, Germany would have given up just like fanatical Japan did!! Russia enslaved Eastern Europe for 50 years after the war, and are still a huge thorn on the side of humanity with war crime mafia RasPutin in charge…

          • FreedomVoice

            Francois Labelle,
            Ribbentrop-Molotov pact is a myth, there is no historical evidence that this pact existed. Russia “invaded” Poland just to stop Germans going east to prevent sudden attack across Russian border. Even Cherchull officially admitted that it was absolutely necessary for Russia go into Poland.

          • FreedomVoice

            >Poland Russian massacre of Polish intelligentsia at Katin forest…

            Several years before Katin, during Poland-Soviet war, poles executed 70 thousands of Russian prisoners. Katin was a revenge for that. If someone would kill all your friends and family you’d also be a little bit unkind to the killers, don’t you?

          • FreedomVoice

            >Invasion …, Finland

            Leningrad was too close to the border and thus insecure in case of German attack. Stalin proposed finns to move border 90 rilometers of Lengingrad. In exchange Stalin proposed enormous territories in Karelia, that area was much more than Stalin asked. Finns rejected proposal and Stalin had to attack. If he didn’t do this, Germans would occupy Leningrad, Russia would lose the war, and all Europe would become nazy state

          • FreedomVoice

            >Invasion of Baltics

            It’s lie. This wasn’t invasion, and there is no historical evidence that it was invasion. According to historical facts Baltic states intentionally agreed for Russian troops to come

          • Francois Labelle

            Freedom Voice …did I mentioned you’re an idiot!?

            It was a war one of the sides involved would rather forget, while the other fights to keep the memory alive. Finns are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the start of the Winter War against the Soviet Union. After months of ultimatums, on November 30, 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Finland. With a sizeable advantage in manpower, tanks and aircraft, the Red Army command expected victory within weeks. “We could not understand why. The Soviet Union was so big, so why would they take something from us?” says Lars Loflund, Finnish war veteran. Just months earlier, the Soviet Union and Germany had signed a non-aggression pact, which contained a secret protocol dividing North and East Europe into spheres of influence. Finland fell under the USSR’s. That fitted in with Stalin’s plan to expand the Soviet border from its second city of Leningrad. However, the Soviet Union had underestimated the Finns. The Finnish Commander, General Mannerheim, had ordered the construction of a powerful line of fortifications. Although poorly equipped, the defenders knew the rugged terrain, and were better prepared for the plunging temperatures.

            “In the conflict zone there were no roads, no settlements – just forests and lakes. Nothing to get your bearings from”, says Viktor Lavskiy, Russian War Veteran, adding, “The soldiers and the equipment were not ready, and the reconnaissance was insufficient.” As losses mounted, the Soviets pumped more and more troops into the theater of conflict to finally break through the Finnish fortifications. Despite making inroads, the cost of the war was proving too high for the USSR. On March 12, 1940, it accepted the offer of a ceasefire less than six months after the first shots were fired. While Finland ceded around a tenth of its territory, it retained its independence. It had been a short but bloody war. Twenty-five thousand Finns were lost, but the number of Soviet casualties was up to five times that amount. “During Soviet times, people were reluctant to even mention this war. It was difficult, not particularly successful, and however you try to spin it, the Soviet Union was the aggressor,” says Aleksandr Golubev, Historian from the Russian Academy of Sciences. In Helsinki, commemorations of the Winter War are everywhere. Local celebrities chose the city’s biggest mall to hand out badges in support of the few surviving veterans. “These guys saved us and that is why we live in Finland today,” Mati Vatanen, singer with the Leningrad Boys, told RT.

            There are exhibitions which remember the fallen, though the mood is solemn, not defiant.

            One Finnish war veteran, Lars Loflund, believes there was nothing wrong with the Russian people. It was the system that was wrong.

          • FreedomVoice

            >sending raw material to the Whermach war effort until the end

            US, France and other European States supported Hitler untill 1945. Russia supported him only untill 1941

          • FreedomVoice

            >Russia paraded together with the Nazi in Poland

            This is a myth. There is no historical evidence of that

          • FreedomVoice

            >America had nuclear power, Germany would have given up just like fanatical Japan did!!

            Without Russia Germany would enslaved Europe and developed nuclear bomb before US (see “The Man in the High Castle” movie). In the best case US would make peace treaty with Germany. In the worst case Germany would Nuke US

          • FreedomVoice

            >Russia enslaved Eastern Europe for 50 years after the war

            Eastern european countries had their own governments.

          • FreedomVoice

            Francois Labelle,
            I think I understand why you are so aggressive. Your name sounds french. Your country was f..cked in the ass by Germany in 1940, then you actively supported Adolf Hitler till the and of the war. Only thanks to Stalin France was invited to signing a treaty with Germany. Today you country is a failed state without political will and independence. Admit this.

      • Grubbie

        It’s pointless arguing with you, there is loads of evidence. The movements of the yet to be identified hitmen ARE compelling and admissible by themselves. Find them, tell me about their parents,grannies, children, uncle’s,etc,tell me how they financed all of this travel, find someone who traded with them,which gym they go to, their hobbies,friends etc.Then we talk.

        Reply
        • FreedomVoice

          >there is loads of evidence

          Okay, where are these loads of evidence? Can you describe in more detail and provide links to sources?

          Reply
          • Brad

            Freedom,

            The UK CPS have determined there is sufficient evidence to bring them to trial.

            That’s it.

            Whether you think there is enough in the media means absolutely f all.

            Crime on uk soil- uk law.
            Пока

          • Brad

            If the CPS say they have.

            That’s it.

            Even if they haven’t.

            That’s uk law.

            Now go away.

          • FreedomVoice

            >If the CPS say they have.
            >That’s it.

            How do you know that they really have it?
            Fo instance, if CPS say that you are a homosexual person loving swallowing a sperm, would this also be true only because CPS said this?

            >Even if they haven’t.
            >That’s uk law.

            Could you specify what exactly british law allows accusing a person without evidence?

          • Francois Labelle

            It always amazes how some, faced with the overwhelming evidence would spend hours trying to convince obvious pathetic Russian trolls of the obvious!! The trolls are well trained! BREAKING NEWS…You are not talking to regular folks with an open mind!!

  2. constantia et zelo

    When considering that neither the time frame nor the route of their Salisbury day trip can be matched to the time frame of the Skripal poisoning, it is reasonable to ponder if Petrov and Bashirov are involved with people in London that set them up? Were the two lured to pay a visit UK by someone who knew about the details of their personal records in the Russian domestic passport registry? Were they lured or even hired by someone to pay the visit to Salisbury and pose for the CCTV cameras?

    Regardless of whether Petrov and Bashirov were involved in the poisoning or not, it is anyway a fact that their domestic passport applications are available for the entire world to see here on Bellingcat webpage. This article also indicates that it has been fairly easy to access to the Russian Domestic Passport register, riffle and retrieve the data records dating back to over 10 years and to spot the potential GRU personnel or cover identities from the database. Such an obvious lack in access controls in a major population database poses a grave risk for all Russian citizens in being targeted by identity theft and social engineering schemes.
    I do not know if Russians fully understand this but in the western countries and Scandinavia from where I’m writing this, it is illegal to let unauthorized entities whether foreign or domestic to access, collect and share population records or passport application records. It is also not acceptable to maintain the references to classified profession or assignment in the same database with regular passport applications.
    In fact, it very much seems to me that the entire domestic passport application register of Russian Federation has been accessed by unwarranted users and leaked to the foreign entities, long before the Skripal case.
    Maybe it is too late to call fot damage control now, but I still suggest Russia should audit their population registries IMMEDIATELY and install ACCESS CONTROL with logs!

    Reply
    • Marco

      Constantia at zelo, if you have nothing interesting to say but utter moronic idiocy, please spare us. Thank you

      Reply
      • anticommvirus

        constantia et zelo, you must be another Putinescu Russian spy in Scandinavia, just like the Chinese spies in Asia, who completely deny their existence, the socialist/communists are out in force (allover the world) trying to manipulate, cheat and deceive like they have always done, nothing has changed but and the most moronic thing is, that they all think that we in the West are stupid!

        Reply
    • Overlord

      Constantia at zelo: what are you whining about? typical european.
      perhaps you could go piss in a wine bottle or go on strike or something equally european and useless? Even these activities would prove more useful than your churlish commentary.

      Reply
  3. Orbanistano

    Don’t have time to argue with the Pootey trolls here who babble on just like #Cult45 Devotees, following There is no truth logic 😶. To understand Pootey’s M.O. one has to think outside the box, conventional logic does not apply. Most security services like Mossad, CIA, GRU, MI6 plan months/weeks ahead, invisible recon teams do the ground work. When a plan is set in play, there are invisible back up individuals/teams that won’t show up on CCTV cams, no entry or exit from Russia to the UK. Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are GRU agents but they went to great lengths to become as obvious as possible, leaving a trail meant to be found. Flying direct flights on Aeroflot to and from Russia. Instead of taking a train straight to City Scape Hotel on Bow Street that takes around 1hr 15 mins, they travelled to Victoria Station, then on to Waterloo Station, after that their final trip to their hotel. 4 hours making sure they showed up on CCTV. They could have travelled from Gatwick to Salisbury and stayed there, instead far from the airports, the train stations and the Center of London. Bow Street, famous for London’s first Police force, the Bow Street Runners. They made sure a very small trace of Novichok was left in the hotel to find. I’m guessing that these 2 were the patsies that MI5 and the security services were meant to find the trail and blame. Pootey is an accomplished master of deception, smoke and mirrors guy. Don’t apply “Why would” logic, It’s all about if he can, he will. The Novichok in the fake perfume bottle was left in a charity shop bin in Amesbury, months later which strongly suggest the work of a back-up GRU team. The trigger was Yulia Skirpal flying into the UK, 2 targets for the price of one. Very clever theatre by a sociopathic dwarf, a guy blew up blocks of flats in 1999, create culprits, just to appear as a saviour in Chechnya. Even the RT interview with these ‘secret gay Russian tourists’ is filmed in different rooms. I know Salisbury and the cathedral is only a 10 minute walk from the station, you can’t loose your way as the cathedral spire is visible for miles. There was no snow on the pavements, it had melted away leaving wet pavements and sludge. They both had winter shoes on and the buses to Stonehenge were running as normal. Do real tourists really travel so far to somewhere and spend under 45 minutes on the place they chose to see?

    Reply
    • Phoenix C.

      Precisely. Too many people are attributing this to sloppy GRU Tradecraft and it couldnt be further from the truth…It was meant to be discovered…A message had to be sent to dissidents/defectors everywhere: They Cannot Protect you, RU Is Patient, Capable, & Lethal. Period. They accomplished their mission without a single hitch even the added twist where they wanted to be discovered but have it look accidental as if they’re sloppy so that when they truly go ghost & close someones acct. the world will say, “Nah, couldn’t be the Russians-too clean for them…”

      Reply
    • Brad

      Indeed, staying in London was simply meant to have been an attempt at alibi.

      No ID required to travel to Salisbury for the day.

      The RT interview screwed that when they admitted going to Salisbury.

      Reply
    • FreedomVoice

      >The evidence that the CPS has is tested in court.

      What exactly evidence was tested? Can you list all evidences and provide links?

      Reply
        • Brad

          @Grubbing and @Freedom,

          The evidence is legally tested in court when it comes to trial. That’s in the future.

          There is sufficient evidence to bring them to trial. The CPS have said so, and it’s their decision. This is fact because, it’s is their decision.

          This does not mean the accused are guilty.

          Reply
          • FreedomVoice

            You said that Russia is guilty killing Scripal. But if threre was no legal trial how could Russia be assigned guilty?

          • Grubbie

            If Russia is innocent then the state should be able to prove the real identity of your hitmen. If Bellingcat is wrong its easy to prove it,just produce the files pre 2009.Can’t can you?

          • FreedomVoice

            According to presumption of innocence it’s England’s responsibility to prove that “hitmen” are the killers and that Bellingcat report is not fake

  4. Brad

    Freedom,

    I keep telling you, but you won’t listen.

    The uk wants to try the two accused. The CPS has a case.

    The uk wants to know that R will release them to the uk. Before formally asking…

    Reply
    • Vlad

      Freedomvoice is a Russian troll, probably being paid to argue in the internets. They’re obviously a Russian, judging by the grammar mistakes in their messages. The nickname is also hilariously ironic.

      Don’t bother arguing with Putin trolls, you’re just resting your time here. They are meant to create chaos, spread misinformation and confusion in favour of Russia within both Russian and western societies.

      Reply
  5. Elisabeth Thornburgh JD

    Trafficked by US Dept of Justice et al for EMR rf behavior modification weapons precrimes devices radiofrequency weapons AI research. Never consented Never paid 14 years since lured to CIA interviews. Ex spouse cousin to Dick Thornburgh grandson of federal judge great grandson of US Congressman who was law partner to to US Supreme Court Justice Sanford.
    RNC DNC eu UK Swiss politicians using brain scanning techs fmri technologies for free dating service free political focus groups. Corbyn and Frances Melanchthon hold party meeting in Liverpool. Trafficked me for this Political idea. Brain Net Brain Project Brain Initiative. Sensor City Liverpool. Billion dollar industry. Spine Degenerating from Neuralace Ed Musk NASA contracts Neuralink never consented never paid fourteen years. Trace stocks Neuralink Sierra Nevada Frontier Services Group by Congress EU UK Swiss Hong Kong politicians. Profiting from Torture. Rapes in Anus Grooming for prostitution blacklisted defamation brain damaged for test case wrongful death suit mine Class Action Forced Marriage ORNL reservation town

    Us UK EU and Switzerland and now Hong Kong fighting over test case my wrongful death suit

    Awakened at Hong Kong airport bruised and sexually assalted by MI 6 agents

    Please help me

    Blocked from Phoning lawyers outside intelligence services blocked from emails

    Elisabeth Thornburgh JD

    Human Rights Defender

    Thornburgh v US Dept of Energy Defense CIA and Americans violating federal court order Vietnam Veterans of America v CIA

    Please forward to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

    Reply

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