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Full report: Skripal Poisoning Suspect Dr. Alexander Mishkin, Hero of Russia

October 9, 2018

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Read The Insider Russian report on this same topic here.

In  a preceding report on the investigation into the two suspects in the Skripals poisoning case, Bellingcat and its reporting partner the Insider disclosed the identity of one of the two suspects. The person travelling under the alias of Ruslan Boshirov was identified as GRU’s Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, recipient of Russia’s highest state award.

Bellingcat can now report that it has conclusively identified the second suspect, who travelled to Salisbury under the alias Alexander Petrov. We already produced evidence that “Alexander Petrov” is not an authentic persona, but an undercover alias for an officer of a Russian security agency. In a later report, we established that “Petrov” was specifically working for Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU.

We have identified “Alexander Petrov” to be in fact Dr. Alexander Yevgeniyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU. Furthermore, multiple witnesses familiar with Alexander Mishkin and his family have confirmed to us that he, like Col. Chepiga, is a recipient of the Hero of Russia award, which is bestowed by a special decree by the Russian President.

While Alexander Mishkin’s true persona has an even smaller digital footprint than Anatoliy Chepiga’s, Bellingcat has been able to establish many key facts from his background.

Who is Alexander Mishkin?

Alexander Mishkin was born on 13 July, 1979 in the village of Loyga, in the Archangelsk District in Northern European Russia. Loyga, inhabited by just over a thousand residents, is so remote that it has no road access to the rest of Russia, and for most of the year is only reachable via a narrow-gauge railroad. Alexander Mishkin lived in his home village until at least 1995, until he was sixteen. For a large part of his school years, Mishkin lived with his grandmother, Loyga’s only medical practitioner at the time.

Photograph from Loyga, a village without paved roads, isolated from the rest of Russia most of the year

At some point between 1995 and 1999, Alexander Mishkin moved to St. Petersburg. We could not establish what led to the initial relocation, although some people familiar with his family reported that he enrolled at a military academy. We have established with certainty however that no later than 2001 he was a student at the “S. Kirov” Military Medical Academy, which is popularly referred to in Russian as Voyenmed. Mishkin studied at the Academy’s 4th Faculty, which trains military doctors for Russia’s naval armed forces.  He specialised in undersea and hypobaric medicine. Mishkin graduated the Academy in 2006 or 2007 with a medical degree and rank of senior lieutenant, which is the default rank granted to all military doctors in Russia.

It is not certain at what point — before, during or after his military medical studies — Mishkin was recruited to work for the GRU. However, no earlier than 2007 and no later than 2010 he relocated to Moscow and received an undercover identity, including a second national ID and travel passport, under the alias Alexander Petrov.

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. The family name was changed to Petrov, and the birthplace was moved to Kotlas, town approximately 100 km from his actual place of birth (reaching Kotlas from Loyga by car, ironically enough, takes 10 hours as it requires a 350-km detour). Under his cover identity, Mishkin was registered at a Moscow address occupied by a different individual who is likely unrelated to him and unaware of his existence. The real Mishkin, under his authentic identity, lived with his wife and two children at a different address in Moscow.

Incomplete border crossing data obtained by Bellingcat shows that in the period 2010-2013 Mishkin travelled — under his undercover persona of Petrov — multiple times to Ukraine, and often crossed by car into and back from the self-declared Transnistrian Republic where he stayed for short periods of time.  His last trip to Ukraine was in mid-December 2013. Mishkin’s travel itinerary from 2016 and on was reported previously by us.

Until early September 2014, Mishkin’s registered home address in Moscow was Khoroshevskoye Shosse 76B, the address of the headquarters of the GRU. Bellingcat has confirmed that until approximately the same time, August 2014, Col. Chepiga was also registered as “residing” at this address. This address registration did not mean that the two physically lived at the GRU headquarters but that their actual place of residence was kept confidential.

Hero of Russia award: For activities in Ukraine?

In the latter part of 2014, President Putin bestowed Alexander Mishkin with the Hero of the Russian Federation Award.  People closely familiar with Mishkin’s family reported to us that they believe Russia’s highest award was given for Mishkin’s activities “either in Crimea or in relation to [former Ukrainian president] Yanukovich”

In our previous reporting on Chepiga, we identified that until 2014 he resided at an apartment complex shared by dozens of GRU-linked officers and owned by the Ministry of Defense. While we found no indication of Mishkin’s actual residence while registered at GRU headquarters address, it can be assumed he also used a GRU-issued corporate apartment. In the autumn of 2014, at the time both Mishkin and Chepiga received their Hero of Russia Awards, both moved to upscale apartments valued at between €350,000 and €500,000 at the exchange rates that existed then. Bellingcat believes that these apartments were in-kind remuneration that accompanied the highest state award.

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.

Identification method

The starting point for our research was a passport photograph of “Alexander Petrov,”as well as security camera photos and video footage from this person’s interview on RT.  In addition, we had the passport dossier of the undercover persona “Petrov”, which contained an earlier photo and other, possibly irrelevant or fake, biographical data. In addition, UK media quoted a police source stating that the first name of the suspect was indeed believed to be “Alexander”, while the family name was believed to be different than “Petrov”.

Similar to the identification of Col. Chepiga, Bellingcat initially exhausted all reverse-image search attempts with no match. This implied that “Petrov”, like Col. Chepiga, has no social media or other photographic presence on the internet, or that such past presence, if any, has been cleansed thoroughly.

The second line of attack was to search through photo-albums or group photos and videos of graduates of the Far-Eastern Military School attended by Col. Chepiga. This approach also yielded no results. Similarly, no matches were identified in group photos of the Spetsnaz military unit to which Chepiga was assigned after graduation. Then Bellingcat searched through names of all people registered at Chepiga’s corporate-residence address. After exploring all possible name and age matches, we concluded none of the residents could be “Alexander Petrov.”

Change of search algorithm

Finally, we decided to apply a different approach to the search. While in the case of Chepiga, all personal details had been altered for his cover persona, this was not necessarily always the case.  Other GRU undercover officers we had investigated, such as Eduard Shishmakov, had retained their first name, birthdate and place of birth, and had only the last name changed, in Shishmakov’s case to “Shirokov.” The research team hypothesized that this may have been the case with “Petrov” too, given the tip that the first name had been retained unchanged.

Looking for clues as to the geographical focus for the search, we noted that in the “cover” passport file, there was a reference to a previous passport, issued in St. Petersburg in 1999.

The address in St. Petersburg mentioned in the covert passport of “Petrov” that refers to a passport issued in 1999

Searching through dozens of previously leaked databases, we did not find such passport issue number, leading the team to conclude the number was fake. However, the reference to St. Petersburg was a possible clue, under the “minimum change” hypothesis.

Alexander from St. Petersburg

Focusing on St. Petersburg, we searched through various leaked databases of residents, vehicle owners and telephone subscribers, by using the following search criteria: first name and patronymic = “Alexander Yevgeniyevich” (as in the cover identity),  and birth date = “13 July, 1979” (also as in the cover identity).

This search resulted in only one exact match in St. Petersburg databases from 2003 and 2006: Alexander Yevgeniyevich Mishkin, born on 13 July, 1979. This name with the same address, Akademika Lebedeva street 12, apartment 30, are mentioned in an open source database as well.

Alexander Yevgeniyevich Mishkin, born on 13 July 1979, from a 2003 St. Petersburg database

Bellingcat then used the telephone number (which is no longer in service) listed in the database as search criteria, to find other St. Petersburg residents that were linked to it. At least eight residents were registered to have used this same phone number, in the 2003 and 2006 databases. This finding suggested that these living quarters may have been a communal apartment (komunalnaya kvartira), or living space shared by multiple unrelated residents. Communal apartments were wide-spread in the USSR, but as of 2002 would have primarily been used by students. Indeed, more than half of the people registered to this phone number, including Mishkin, were between ages of 18 and 24.

A total number of eight people registered on the same address with the same telephone number as Alexander Mishkin

A review of the map of St. Petersburg placed the address directly across the part of the campus buildings of the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy, or Voyenmed.

Campus buildings of the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy across the address of Mishkin

Another clue from the cover passport that supports the hypothesis that Alexander Mishkin is the true identity of Alexander Petrov, is the aforementioned reference to a previous passport issued in 1999. The reference mentions “20 отделение милиции Выборгского района город Санкт-Петербурга,” translated as the 20th police department of the Vyborg district of St. Petersburg, located at Ulitsa Smolyachkova nr.5, just 1.6 kilometers from the address where Mishkin was registered.

Using the open-source online database of residents of St. Petersburg, Bellingcat identified more than 30 persons who had inhabited different apartments in the house at “Akademika Lebedeva 12.” A search for these people’s online presence showed that many of them list VMEDA as their alma mater, and many others work in spheres linked to the medical profession.  From the 8 persons registered to the same communal apartment as Mishkin, two were identified, via social media, as VMEDA graduates.

No presence for “Alexander Yevgeniyevich Mishkin” with the birth date of 13.07.1979 was found on Russian or foreign social media sites.

At this point in the investigation, Bellingcat hypothesized that the Alexander Yevgeniyevich Mishkin who lived across the street from the VMEDA in 2002 was a student at the military medical academy. Additionally, the team hypothesized that this might indeed by the real person behind the persona Alexander Petrov, who shared the same birthdate, name and patronymic.

Linking St. Petersburg to Moscow

On the assumption that the real person behind “Alexander Petrov” lives and works in Moscow (as suggested by the Moscow registration of the cover passport file), Bellingcat then searched for presence of a person with the name Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin in Moscow. The first open-source result was from a Moscow online phone database.

The telephone number of Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin in Moscow

Using this phone number and name, we searched in various leaked Moscow databases and found a match in a car insurance database from 2013.

Mishkin’s telephone number in a 2013 car insurance database

However, at this point it was not unequivocal that this Moscow-based person having the same full name and driving a Volvo XC90 was the same person as the St. Petersburg namesake. To verify this, Bellingcat acquired the registration history of this vehicle from an official Russian database.  The car history showed that it had been imported, and initially registered in St. Petersburg in 2012, and on 11 September 2013 had been transferred to an individual residing in the Khoroshevsky District in Moscow.

The registration history of the Volvo XC90 shows the car was registered in 2013 to a person living in the Khoroshevsky District in Moscow

As the GRU headquarters is located at Khoroshevskoye Shosse 76B, in this same district, this finding increased the probability that Alexander Mishkin from St. Petersburg is indeed “Alexander Petrov.” However, the evidence was still inconclusive, primarily as there was no confirmation that “Khoroshevsky Region” Alexander Mishkin shares (a) same birth date as the St. Petersburg namesake and (b) if his address in Khoroshevsky Region is not a pure coincidence.

To eliminate these uncertainties, we obtained a more recent auto insurance database from 2014, available for purchase from a Russian website. A search for the registered owner of the Volvo XC90 eliminated any doubt that Alexander Mishkin is linked to the GRU, as the address listed for the owner was GRU’s headquarters, at Khoroshevskoye Shosse 76B.  Additionally, due the full overlap of birth date and name, we concluded that with high confidence that he is the same Alexander Mishkin who resided next to  Russia’s military academy in St. Petersburg in 2002.

Alexander Mishkin’s address in a 2014 car insurance database, mentioned as “Khoroshevskoye Shosse 76B,” the address of the GRU headquarters

At this point in the investigation, Bellingcat and its investigative partner, The Insider, shared the conviction that Alexander Mishkin was in fact the person behind the alias “Petrov,” as all evidence was internally consistent, and also consistent with data from the previous case study of Shishmakov/Shirokov. The team also had relatively high confidence that Alexander Mishkin had studied at, and possibly graduated, the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy, VMEDA, or Voyenmed.

Do not divulge

Via Russian social networks, Bellingcat mass-contacted hundreds of VMEDA graduates from the 2001-2007 class range. We did not inform the persons contacted about the context of the query, nor did we mention Petrov. Many of the contacted persons responded by saying they are not familiar with an Alexander Mishkin as having been in their class. Most others did not respond to our queries.

One person, who requested complete anonymity, confirmed to Bellingcat that Alexander Mishkin indeed graduated the academy, having been in a different class. They also said that they had recognized Mishkin as “Alexander Petrov” from the RT interview. This same person informed us that many of the graduates from Mishkin’s class and department had been contacted by Russian security services over the last few weeks, and instructed not to divulge Mishkin’s identity to anyone.

A photo worth a thousand words

Having established Petrov’s true identity in late September, we focused all efforts on obtaining a photograph of Alexander Mishkin. As reported by Russian media, following Bellingcat’s initial reports on the Skripal suspects, the Russian domestic security agency FSB clamped down on sources that they perceived might be leaking data from Russia’s passport dossier databases. As a result, requesting any source to provide the investigating team with access to Mishkin’s passport file was not an option, as it would place this source in danger.

Instead, we were able to obtain a copy of Alexander Mishkin’s scanned passport pages, from a source with access to a scanned copy of the passport. The source requested complete anonymity due to safety concerns, and thus Bellingcat cannot share the position or history the source has that has enabled them to have access to this document. However, we have validated the data visible in the passport in at least three other leaked databases that match the passport number, date of issue, name and issuing authority.  The photo on the passport scan does not appear in any other open sources, further minimizing the risk of а forged document. We have also confirmed the source’s profession and that his or her position (which is not linked to the government) provides access to this document.

A scan of Alexander Mihskin’s 2001 passport

The source also provided Bellingcat with a second document in the name of Alexander Mishkin containing a (different) photograph of an individual bearing a strong facial resemblance of “Petrov.”

Bellingcat requested a forensic facial similarity analysis between the passport photo from Mishkin’s passport (dated 2001) and “Petrov”’s international passport (dated 2006), from Prof. Ugail, professor of visual computing at the University of Bradford and an expert in simulated age progression. Prof. Ugail confirmed unequivocally that the two photographs belong to the same person, accounting for the 15-year difference between the two.

Mishkin’s passport photo of 2001 versus Petrov’s passport photo; various face recognition methods show a high percentage of probability of a match

On the road to Loyga, the village with no roads

For final validation of our amassed findings, Bellingcat’s Russian investigative partner, The Insider, sent a reporter to the village of Loyga.  The reporter was able to meet and talk to many residents, who all recognized “Alexander Petrov”, the person shown on photographs released by the British police and seen in the RT interview, as “our local boy” Alexander Mishkin. One person told our reporter that Alexander Mishkin had been her son’s play friend.

In addition, at least five different residents told our reporter that Alexander Mishkin, who they knew worked in Murmansk or in Moscow “as a military doctor”, had received the Hero of Russia award several years ago. One source close to Mishkin’s grandmother (who is now in her 90s, and as a former doctor is still revered in the village) told us that the reason for the award is top secret, but that the understanding in the village was that it was “for Crimea or [for former Ukrainian president Viktor] Yanukovych,” the implication being that the award had either something to do with the Crimean annexation or with helping Yanokovych flee Ukraine.

The same source told us that Alexander Mishkin’s grandmother possesses a photograph on which President Putin is shown bestowing the Gold Star medal (which goes with the award) to Alexander, and shaking his hand. The source said the grandmother treasures this photo and does not show it to everyone, and never lets anyone else hold it. Our reporter was not able to talk directly to Petrov’s grandmother or see the photograph.

A Doctor and a Hero

Bellingcat could not find any publicly accessible document confirming that Alexander Mishkin received the Hero of Russia award. However, this is not unusual, as only a part of the awards are made public, while recipients who earn the recognition through services that are subject to state secrecy are not announced. In the Col. Chepiga case, we were only able to discover his award due to public statements by officers of his military school, and the gold-emblazoned name on the “Gold Star” wall of a school-ground monument. No such public honors were identified in open sources for Dr. Mishkin.

However, at least one document discovered by Bellingcat corroborates the statements by Alexander Mishkin’s proud townspeople. In September 2014, at about the same time that Mishkin would have received his award, per the Loyga residents, Mishkin moved to a new apartment in а freshly build skyscraper in Moscow. The two-bedroom apartment, which was registered in the name of his wife and two daughters, had a tax value of approximately €350,000, significantly above the price range tenable for a Russian military officer. More tellingly, according to an extract from Russia’s central real estate registry, ownership of the apartment was obtained by the new owners based on a “Contract of Transfer.” A Contract a Transfer is not a standard form of real estate acquisition; a more standard reference would be a “Sale and Purchase Contract.”

At approximately the same time, Col. Anatoliy Chepiga also moved from an apartment in a corporate “dormitory” building to an upscale apartment not far from Mishkin’s. Chepiga’s apartment was larger and more expensive: at 100 sq. m, its tax value was reported at approx. half a million euro at the then exchange rate. This 12th floor apartment was also passed on to the four members of the Chepiga family on the basis of a “Contract of Transfer of Ownership”, although in this document also the term “Privatization” was added.

The most plausible explanation for these two contemporaneous “transfers”, none of which was associated with a mortgage or a traditional sale-purchase contract, is that they were granted to Chepiga and Mishkin by the Russian state as an in-kind bonus alongside the Hero of Russia award. This would be consistent with information reported to the BBC and other media by residents of Chepiga’s home village who spoke of a Moscow apartment being given to Anatoliy Chepiga as a present when he received the Hero of Russia Award.

Relevance of new findings

The findings of this investigation by Bellingcat add possibly material context to the mission of the two GRU officers to Salisbury. The inclusion of a trained military doctor on the team implies that the purpose of the mission has been different than information gathering or other routine espionage activities. Bellingcat contacted various sources with knowledge of practices of Russian military intelligence who provided a range of opinions on what the relevance of the presence of a doctor in a foreign-operations team means. While some stated that GRU was known to form multi-functional and multi-skilled teams as part of operational “best practices”, others suggested that 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.

The new findings also require a renewed analysis of the travel itinerary of Mishkin across Western Europe in the period 2016-2018, previously disclosed by Bellingcat.

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  1. Servus

    Lets anticipate the next step, a second interview with our favourite medievalist tourists.
    RT: Priviet gospodi Petrov, there are lots of pictures of passport, driving license etc. circulating and you are being accused to be somebody else.
    Petrov : Yes, it’s amazing, I would never expect such an interest in my humble person.
    RT: The driving license published by BC, is it yours ?
    Petrov : Yes it is, but it’s not my face… (his friend Ruslan nods with approbation..)
    Boshirov : This is correct, not his face.
    RT: But is looks very similar… how can you explain that ?
    Petrov: I have no explanation, please ask British security services and Theresa May, they have published this manipulation.
    RT: And Gatwick scan and photo:
    Petrov : Oh, it was me for sure but not my face either (this part was cut in the final version).
    RT: Gospodi Ruslan, there were also some photos published of your documents but with another persons name…
    Boshirov: I sincerely hope that this has created less trouble to the other person but it was not my face, even on my documents.

  2. Jeroen

    They were not medievalist tourists but Russian military officers on a secret criminal mission in a foreign country. Neither were those three Russians from the GRU 21208 military unit from Tolyatti armed with Vintorez rifle tourists on a riverwalk to admire the church in Shchastya, when they shot Ukrainian military and scout patrol GRU Captain Yevgeniy Vladimirovich Yerofeyev and Aleksandr Anatoleyvich Aleksandrov were both made prisoners of war by the Ukrain military, May 2015.
    More Russian GRU officers were arrested by Kiev, at least one known GRU officer was Roman Filatov in March 2014, while another alleged GRU officer died during a sabotage act April 2014 near Kharkiv.
    More interesting to learn for what illegal or criminal acts Chepiga and Mishkin were awarded medals.

  3. Lena

    We are talking about this drivers license:
    The young Mishkin’s photo was on a thick sheet of photographic paper, cropped by a stamp (all four sides and round corners cut in one motion) and glued onto the license blank. Yuri, you assumed that the cropping was as I sketched on the left at . In imperfect reality it was cropped as I sketched on the right. Do you understand now?

    Now please try to explain how you managed to ignore all other evidence. Such detachment from reality is called schizophrenia.

    • Yuri Ionov

      It is you who does not see the reality. If it was cropped as in the right of your cartoon, than the left edge of the photo would be the surface of the photo paper and would be of whitish color. However, it is the surface of the document paper and of the brownish color. Therefore the bottom of the left edge does not align with the top of the left edge.
      And again, you would better provide the photos from the CCTV cameras where Boshirov and Petrov or Chepiga and Mishkin or all four of them spray Novichok on the Slripals door.

      • Servus

        Youri, I see what you mean, the top of the photo is roughly .5 mm wider then the bottom, and there is a piece of length, roughly 7 mm of the photo that is missing from the lower bottom left hand side of the photo, just as if somebody cut it with scissors.
        Cropping with Photoshop would result in whole length being reduced not just an oblique band of last 7 mm. Analysis of pixels didn’t lead me to think that the photo was manipulated with Photoshop or similar tools. The simplest common sense explanation is that there was some sort of imperfection like imperfect cut by the cutting tool that was corrected. The whole photo was most likely cut into required size with a tool, look at the identical rounding of the corners.
        On the other hand, fixing such a missing piece with Photoshop is trivial.
        The fact that the photo is not perfect does not imply that it’s a forgery as we have much simpler explanations. You will certainly find similar imperfections in yours and other peoples older driving license and passes.

        Now for formal logic analysis.
        Photo of Mr Petrov (pass, CCTV, RT TV) = recognized as Mishkin by neighbours, class mates and relatives.
        Photo of Mr Mishkin (pass, driving license) = recognized as Mishkin by neighbours, class mates and relatives.
        Conclusion : Photos of Mishkin and Petrov are identical from a person’s recognition point of view (the “=” sign).
        A=C , B=C =>A=B
        Which of course does not mean that Mishkin’s driving license photo was not substitute, but if it was, the new photo was identical with the old one from the person’s recognition point of view. Why would anybody bother to do that?

        But such replacements do happen. Once on old lady grabbed my arm and said: “There are thieves in my house! Last night, they have substitutes a packet of frozen Fundus fish with an identical one”.

        • H. Elpin

          “The simplest common sense explanation is that there was some sort of imperfection like imperfect cut by the cutting tool that was corrected. ”

          … with scissors. I came to the same conclusion.

        • Grubbie

          Actually I see what you mean now,I’ve never actually had a computer, just a smartphone.
          No way has it been Photoshoped,as you say, they haven’t sorted out the really easy bits.
          Now look at the top, there’s a white line, just the photo edge you might say, but the corners of the white bit don’t line up with the rest. Also the photo is either printed on thick cardboard or there’s something behind it. I’ve looked at my passport and you have to say that it’s an unusually big step. I’m no expert but I can’t believe it’s Photoshoped, but there is something a bit strange going on underneath the plastic laminate. Maybe a Russian passport holder could have a look at theirs and comment. Maybe that’s an RFD and that’s the way the Russians attach it?

      • Lena

        The white vertical strip at the bottom left of the photo is less than 3 pixels wide at most. It only seems that it’s of darker color. Open the jpg in GIMP, view at 800% to see each pixel separately. You’ll see that colors of nearby pixels bleed into these 3 pixels. The jpg was saved at least twice (in order to censor part of license number). It’s artifacts of JPEG compression. At about the middle of that white vertical strip, you can see a part of horizontal line of the stamp, therefore there is the photographic paper there too.

        You continue to ignore all the other evidence. Including that Mishkin was recognized by former coworkers in SPb on the day of the TV interview:

        > Julia Philippova Вспомнила!! Саша мишкин!

        You are schizophrenic.

        • Yuri Ionov

          The Evdokimov who recognized Petrov as a waiter was 17 years old in the year 2000 and would attend high school at that year rather than have a job as a waiter in a fancy restaurant. And how quickly in his post appeared a former coworker of a job he had 18 years ago, given that Evdokimov’s way of life and occupancy as an art consultant is far from restaurant business his coworker is in according to her post.
          Looks very fishy.

          • Lena

            You are mentally ill. You have paranoid schizophrenia. Go to psychiatrists.

          • I. N. Quirin

            You never moonlighted during you study. You never communicate with friends of the time before you started the current job (probably at a troll factory).

            It is you, who looks very fishy.

          • Mr.Bushkin

            I. N. Quirlin, if you doubt the authenticity of “databases” from Torrent and do not believe into the integrity of images found on the Internet, then you must be insane, as there is just no other plausible alternative explanation.

        • Servus

          Lena, your point about jpeg compression is interesting and I’ll follow up with some tests when I find a moment. Right now it does not convince me, compression removes information and does not add any new, like spilling the colour to adjacent pixels.

  4. pion

    as everybody I admire great job BC has done. I still wonder though – from where BC has info sources. It looks like work of secret service – CIA, Mossad, GRU..? There are not may agencies capable of this job. No single ordinary journalist has access to copied passports, airline passangers database, high definition sattelite photos etc. We can see great resoures spent on BC – financing or purpose is hidden for now. Anyway for me it it interesting how possibly can secret service work.

    • Yuri Ionov

      No. Looks like
      Boshirov = Boshirov
      Chepiga = Chepiga
      Petrov = Petrov
      Mishkin = Mishkin
      Convincing proofs of otherwise were not presented.

      • Servus

        Mr Petrov was recognised as Mishkin, not on any forged photos but as a person physically present in Russia Today studio by people and relatives that knew him in the past.
        There two possible explanation of this mastery, Mr Mishkin has an identical twin brother, but villagers from his native derevnia would have known that.
        Or Mr Petrov appeared in RT with Mr Mishkin’s face. This is a strategy taken by a pickpocket caught with his hand in his victims pocket, “This is NOT my hand!”
        Which explanation do you favour?

        Or maybe you are just paid to deny the obvious, a silly strategy that does not lead anywhere, especially that there is just too much independent proofs of Mr Petrov’s and Boshirev’s true identities.
        Please ready the advice on the page 16 of the “Internet diversant for dummies” ; “if it gets too hot and your situation is really hopeless and none of the tricks worked, cool it, stop writing comments because you will just make our only true truth more ridicule and just draw more attention to our inability to respond.”

        • Yuri Ionov

          Petrov and Boshirov have been shown on TV where they said that they were Petrov and Boshirov. Nobody ever have shown someone who would say I recognized Boshirov as Chepiga and Petrov as Mishkin. We can only believe what Bellingcat or The Insider says or believe some fishy looking photos. The photo in the bar of two friends looks as photoshopped too.

          • H. Elpin

            There is no evidence that the real names of the people shown on TV were Boshirov and Petrov rather than Chepiga and Mishkin.

            Why can the biography, family status, and all other data related to G(R)U agents Chepiga and Mishkin as well as people knowing them be found, whereas no such information is available for “ordinary businessmen” Boshirov and Petrov? The latter have no relatives, no friends, no cars and any other properties, and have been never seen in the flats where they are registered…

            The answer is obvious. Boshirov and Petrov “existed” only on the trips outside Russia. The only exception was the “existence” during the well-known TV show on the order of Putin…

            There are a lot of people who recognized Boshirov and Petrov as Chepiga and Mishkin. Disregarding the fact you demonstrate that you are not interested in the search of truth. It is you who looks fishy.

          • Yuri Ionov

            “Why can the biography, family status, and all other data related to G(R)U agents Chepiga and Mishkin as well as people knowing them be found, whereas no such information is available for «ordinary businessmen» Boshirov and Petrov? ”
            Because nobody was looking for information on Boshirov and Petrov. I am quite surprised that Boshirov and Petrov or Chepiga and Mishkin have not been accused yet by Bellingcat in the murder of Saudi journalist in Turkey.

          • H. Elpin

            “Because nobody was looking for information on Boshirov and Petrov.”

            This is not true as you surely know. The newspaper “KP” even offered a reward for any information helping to find Boshirov and/or Petrov. The reward is still there (if it was not cancelled after the true identity of the persons had leaked).

      • H. Elpin

        No. There is no evidence that Petrov and Boshirov ever existed. The only two persons who found them were Putin and Simonyan… Oh, no, of course Simonyan did not find them. It was them who found Simonyan. Clear, everybody in Russia knows her phone number. Or, maybe not everybody? Maybe, nobody? Maybe only Petrov and Boshirov?

        You are finding fakes everywhere… Is the Simonyan “interview” not a fake? It is actually evident that it was “photoshopped”. Simonyan was in different room than Petrov and Boshirov. It was rather a skype conference, was not it?





  7. Jeroen

    Well these days even “concerned citizen”s like “Yuri Ionov” and “Tracey Thakore” are nor the real Yuri I. and Tracey Th. any more, all very very confusing and disturbing to us ordinary readers…..



    • Grubbie

      Sergi has been in a coma for a long time having been almost killed and probably permanently damaged by nerve agent. I think he is convalescing.God help us if you are really doing anything important for the security services.

  9. Kory Walsh

    I am a bit concerned about this story, It raises questions about the credibility of the UK. 1.
    1# I think we would all agree that the former “GRU” is one of the top-tier world MILITARY INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATIONS.
    2# Who is not tasked with conducting assassinations in foreign countries I:E standing below high def. cameras looking up and leaving a beautiful breadcrumb trail littered with clues for authorities to follow.

    3# Does one simply recover from exposure to being in contact with a military grade chemical agent?

    4# I don’t not believe that the individuals are important enough for the Russians to risk the political fallout from these types of operations there are a few that are but not this group.

    5# Politically I believe the U.K is in trouble if they do not manufacture an enemy coupled with leaving the EU. they will be very exposed and more irrelevant going forward the U.K must drive a wedge between Russia and Germany France and a hand full of others or risk being simply a mouthy lapdog begging for treats from the hugely erratic and unpopular Trump Administration crying wolf.

    6# The balance of power is slowly being moved from the west to Asia and this is a fact PERIOD! simply look at the Iran situation the US has painted them selfs in a corner now.
    7# These are my opinions and whether you agree or not the next 10 years going forward are. going to be very interesting

    • Servus

      Kory, all these things were discussed in here, so please read the base articles and comments, you will find lots of interesting information.
      1. that sort for rankings are bit meaningless
      2. apparently they do this stuff, Chepiga was a elite special troops military not an intelligence officer
      3. apparently yes if contamination is not direct, possibly weak and competent medical care is applied before the paralysis of the respiratory muscles happens. Skripals were saved in last moment, few more minutes and they would have died.
      4. Agree, Skripal was just a “soft target” but it was a terrorist attack meant to have just enough traces back to Russia so that right people would understand but not enough to create large political reaction. The real target were policemen, judges, politicians, anybody that could disturb Russian money laundering. Testing western democracies resolve was also an a objective…. and apart from sending home some diplomats, nothing really happened. UK announced some very weak future measures that will somewhat limit anonymous investments but it’s bull, so Putin tested UK and bottom line is, no need to worry about our dirty $ invested in UK.
      5. pure bullshit, do you have any beginning of the proof for it ? Russia’s relations with all European countries are very bad after invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. If anything, the strong UK reaction was a surprise, during Litvinienko crises, T May did a lot to prevent inquiry and incrimination of Russians. There is a lot of Russian money invested in UK and in British politics.
      6. what is the relevance to this discussion?
      7. difficult not to agree

    • H. Elpin

      You are not concerned about the story at all. It is the same bullshit which was communicated here already many times.

      This bullshit has nothing to do with identification of “Boshirov” and “Petrov”. And this identification is the only purpose of the BC report which you are trying to comment.


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