Salisbury attack suspects Alexander Petrov, left, and Ruslan Boshirov
Website names second Skripal poisoning suspect
01:53 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The investigative website that claimed to have uncovered the real identity of one of two Russian agents involved in the Novichok poisonings in the UK earlier this year has now named the second one.

Eliot Higgins, founder of investigative outlet Bellingcat, told CNN that Bellingcat sent an “insider,” one of its partners in Russia, to Alexander Mishkin’s hometown of Loyga to speak to locals and further investigate Mishkin.

Multiple sources told Bellingcat 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.

The suspects, seen here in Salisbury, were initially identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

According to Bellingcat’s reporting, which CNN has not been able to independently confirm, 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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: (EDITORS NOTE: Alternative crop of image 1027065702.) In this handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police, Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are shown on CCTV on Fisherton Road, Salisbury at 13:05hrs on 04 March 2018, released on September 05, 2018 in London, England. Two Russian nationals using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia March, 2018. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
Putin: Poisoning suspects not criminals
01:34 - Source: CNN

“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.

Russia's state-owned RT network on Thursday aired an interview with the two men suspected by UK authorities of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin encouraged the suspects to speak to the media. In an interview with RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, two men who identified themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov said they had nothing to do with the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury, England, saying they had reached out to RT to tell their side of the story.
Novichok suspects: We were just tourists
02:11 - Source: CNN

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.”

The Kremlin has not commented on the matter. The UK’s Metropolitan Police Service said it would not comment on speculation regarding the true identities of the two men.

In a statement, the Met reiterated it believed the two suspects “were using aliases and a European Arrest Warrant and Interpol Red Notices remain in circulation for the two men.”

“A European Arrest Warrant and Interpol Red Notices remain in circulation for the two men,” the police service said.

Trained as a naval doctor?

Bellingcat last month named the other suspect in the Skripal poisonings as GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, also known as Ruslan Boshirov. Its first article naming him went into great detail about how it had come up with the name, including speaking to “multiple sources familiar with the person and/or the investigation.”

“During his medical studies, Mishkin was recruited by the GRU, and by 2010 had relocated to Moscow, where he received his undercover identity – including a second national ID and travel passport – under the alias Alexander Petrov,” the website said.

While his current military rank is unknown, he was either a colonel or lieutenant colonel at the time of the Skripals’ poisoning, Bellingcat reported.

Bellingcat last month identified the other suspect as Chepiga, aka Ruslan Boshirov.

SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Police stand guard on a cordon outside the John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living in Salisbury on July 9, 2018 in Wiltshire, England. Police have launched a murder enquiry after Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.  In March, Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian-made Novichok in the town of Salisbury. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
2 Russians to be charged in Novichok poisoning
02:01 - Source: CNN

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the first report “bogus.” CNN has contacted her and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov for comment on the new article.

At an energy forum in Moscow last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the furor, calling Skripal a “traitor” and a “scumbag” and suggesting the incident was being “artificially blown up” by the media.

“I see that some of your colleagues are pushing the theory that Mr. Skripal is almost a human-rights activist,” Putin said in response to a journalist’s question about the case. “He’s just a spy. A traitor to the Motherland. There’s such a thing as a traitor to the Motherland. He’s one of them. He’s just a scumbag, that’s all.”

CNN’s Nina dos Santos, Richard Greene and Sebastian Shukla contributed to this report.