Alexander Mishkin, the Russian agent who a British investigative outlet identifies as a suspect in the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter has reportedly received a hero’s honor from President Vladimir Putin.
Multiple sources told Bellingcat, an investigative outlet, that they saw on Mishkin’s grandmother’s mantle a photo of Putin bestowing the Hero of the Russian Federation award, given for service and valor, upon Mishkin, reports Elliot Higgins.
According to Bellingcat’s reporting, Mishkin, 39, is a doctor who works for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.
Bellingcat alleges Mishkin traveled under the name Alexander Petrov when he and GRU Col. Anatoliy Chepiga traveled to the southern English city of Salisbury in March, where the agents allegedly poisoned the Skripals with the nerve agent, novichok.
Sources in St. Petersburg also identified Petrov as Mishkin, Bellingcat reported.
‘Once we had his name we were able to get his identity documents,’ Higgins said. ‘We had a photograph that was obviously the same person. He’s got the same blemishes on his skin. The ear shape matches. His face is exactly the same.
‘To be absolutely certain, we actually had digital analysis done of the photographs that were publicly released before, and the ones we found, which again confirmed it was the same person.’
The suspects themselves have told Russian state television they traveled to Salisbury as tourists.
Russia ready to talk but doubtful
The Russian Embassy in London said it was willing to discuss ‘speculations’ about the Skripal case with British authorities but cast doubt on the Bellingcat report.
‘The Russian side will be ready to discuss both this information and other outstanding issues with the British authorities through official channels if we receive a respective request from London,’ the Embassy said on its website.
It added, though, that if information continues to arrive via media — with references to anonymous sources and nongovernmental organizations with alleged ties to secret services – ‘this will only confirm that the British authorities have no intention to pursue the investigation within the framework of international law.’