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Mass media / News

"They will have to answer." The Bellingcat investigative Christo Grozev – the silence of the Kremlin

Radio Liberty 09.10.2018 at 14:09

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private, non-profit information service funded by the U.S. Congress, broadcasting to the countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Middle East and Russia.

Investigative group is Bellingcat claims that the second suspect in the poisoning of a double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury in March of this year, identified by the British police as an agent of the GRU "Alexander Petrov" is a military doctor and officer in the Russian military intelligence Alexander Mishkin. In the investigation Bellingcat and The Insider, says that Mishkin was born in 1979 in Arkhangelsk region, was educated at the medical Academy and later began working in military intelligence, in the early 2010s, he actively visited Ukraine, and in 2014 received the title of Hero of Russia (as Anatoly Chapiha, another suspect in the attempted Skripal, which was identified earlier). Investigators refer to the words of the inhabitants of his native village Mishkin that his grandmother was a picture where Putin hands over Michael's Star Hero. The representative of The Insider visited the village, seven of whose residents are said Mishkin know as a famous physician and Hero of Russia. Investigators published a photo of the passport Mishkin, admitting that he got it not from open sources, and from a source "with access passport scan" on condition of his anonymity. British police in September said that the attempt on Skripal using chemical warfare agents Novichok made the GRU, who arrived in early March in Britain under the names Alexander Petrov, and Ruslan Bashirov. The Russian government denied it, Russian TV broadcast an interview with "Petrov" and "Bocharovym", which stated that they are businessmen of an average hand, who had gone to Salisbury as a tourist. They responded negatively to the question whether they are GRU agents. Later investigators identified "Bashirova" as Anatoly the Chapiha, now, "Petrova" – as Mishkin. Materials about Mishkin was presented on Tuesday in London, where one of the Bellingcat investigative Christo Grozev gave an interview to Radio Liberty. He described the main conclusions of the investigation: – He graduated from the Military medical Academy with a degree in hypobaric medicine (something to do with submarines) and became a GRU officer not later than 2003. This is what became known. Friends who knew him at school age, who still maintain ties with his relatives, his parents, particularly his grandmother, claimed our correspondents that he went to work in the army as a military doctor and in some case connected with Ukraine, a few years ago, received the award "Hero of Russia". Perhaps they confuse what kind of reward, but the fact that he got it, confirmed by the fact that they all saw in the hands of his grandmother (also a doctor) the photo where Putin gives this award to the most Michael's and shakes his hand. But the photos you have? – No, unfortunately. We tried to see if my grandmother was in the village, but – coincidentally or not – when our reporter was there, she left the village, it was not. But we talked with a sufficient number of sources to have confidence that such a photo exists. I hope that you or other colleagues working in Russia, will be able to see her. – What started the investigation, and was able to catch on to enter real name and surname Alexander Mishkin? We only started with pictures and with an interesting hypothesis, which came from the English Newspapers: they seem to have received the information from British sources that [present] the name of this person coincides with the name of his fake persona. Although we started to look the same way as worked with Capigol – all the photos, all military colleges and so on, but then I remembered that there was a similar case when a GRU officer for your fake person has used a name which did not differ from the real, only the name has changed. We took this case as an algorithm and used it to search that person. Because it was a reference to Petersburg in the dossier that we received about a fake person, "Petrova" that his first passport was issued in St. Petersburg, we started to look for it from Petersburg. The usual search in databases of the OMS Petersburg, which are publicly available on the Internet. When we included only name and date of birth, we found only one such person. It was a hook, which we reached Moscow garesnica. – Who was your source in providing documents, which seems to be not so easy, if not impossible, to find in the public domain? They are easy to find in the public sources, because a simple search will show you at least ten Russian online detectives offering these services for a fee. This service is available. We didn't use it when finding real persons, but used when finding these false characters. But then decided not to, because wittingly or unwittingly, would put people in danger. – Who was the source that finally provided you with a copy of your passport Mishkin? – That's what we can't name, but is a person who is not associated with the government, we checked it specifically, for many reasons, one of which is we don't want to fulfill orders competitive [spec.] services. But we had to make sure that there is a logical explanation of why he had access to this document, although it is not associated with the state. And after receiving it, already knowing the name and surname of the person – it was the final confirmation for us – we started [check] the data received from this person to be sure that they match with all the old data in the old databases: passport number, place of issue in St. Petersburg and so on. It all came together. If you managed to make it clear that Mishkin did in Transnistria, Ukraine? – Not yet, it will be the next part of my personal interest and investigation. Haven't had time just to do it. His fellow villagers say he probably received the Hero of Russia or other reward for the Crimea. You wrote that he was on the Maidan during the events of 2014. Maybe he was there? – Most likely, I think. [For example] Girkin (one of the leaders of the separatists in the East of Ukraine in 2014. – Ed.) before 2014 was on a business trip from Malofeyev (Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeev, associated with the Kremlin and supporting the separatists. – Approx. RS) in Ukraine, in Kyiv, then in Crimea. I am sure that this has been agreed and that some of these people are already in December. – Whether you expect from the Russian authorities, in particular from Vladimir Putin, any reaction, except denial? Dmitry Peskov, press Secretary of the Russian President, said Chapiha is not a Hero of Russia, when it seems to have been found irrefutable evidence that he is. How do you assess such a response – just deny without proof no evidence? – Maybe this is a naive expectation, but I hope that this time they will respond on the merits. Even Russian journalists, those who work in state-dependent media, begin to ask these questions at every press conference. So sooner or later they will have to answer. – Intelligence agencies of all countries, in principle, wrong, and there are many stories of spy failures. But the results of the investigation on the Chapiha and Mishkin what is your impression about Russian intelligence services, the Russian military intelligence? – I do not consider myself an expert on GRU, compared to the FSB, but it seems to me that the GRU is still a huge organization with a huge staff, our search for criteria that can identify specific officers of the GRU, showed at least two thousand people. So, tens of thousands, which is likely to work. I think we see some of their failures, laugh at it, but we don't see a lot of their success.