Remember the two guys who were identified by the Brits as responsible for the Skripal poisoning? They subsequently went on the Kremlin’s RT network and claimed they were not Russian agents but just a couple of regular businessmen who had visited the town of Salisbury to see a famous clock tower. To show how much they cared about the clock tower one of the two men pointed out it was 123 meters tall. Because, you know, that’s the kind of detail a Russian businessman doesn’t forget.
Less than two weeks later, one of the two men was identified as GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga. His friend was identified less than two weeks after that as Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a doctor known to work with the GRU. Both identities were uncovered by an investigative site called Bellingcat. Today, Bellingcat revealed it has identified a third Russian GRU agent who traveled to England at the time of the Skripal attack:
Following a four-month joint investigation with our investigative partners The Insider (Russia) and Respekt (Czechia), Bellingcat can now reveal the true identity and background of this GRU officer, who operated internationally under the cover persona of Sergey Vyachaeslavovich Fedotov. In fact, this person is Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev, a high-ranking GRU officer and a graduate of Russia’s Military Diplomatic Academy.
In addition, Bellingcat says Russia is working behind the scenes to remove all mentions online of the three GRU agents who have been identified:
Notably, we have established that in the last two months, Russian authorities have taken the unusual measure of erasing any public records of the existence of Denis Sergeev, as well as of Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, the main two suspects in the Skripal poisoning. These unprecedented actions cannot plausibly be taken without direct involvement of the Russian state, and add further credibility to the UK government’s assertion that the Skripal poisoning operation, and the subsequent cover-up, were coordinated at a state level.
As for what role, Sergeev (aka Fedotov) played in the poisoning, Bellingcat says it doesn’t know. It knows he arrived in London on the same day as the other two agents, though on an earlier flight. However, it doesn’t know if Sergeev ever traveled to Salisbury (to see the clock-tower!) with the other two agents. His departure from London on the same day the Skripal’s collapsed from exposure to Novichok was also very strange:
He had booked a return flight on Aeroflot’s SU 2579 from Heathrow to Moscow in the afternoon of March 4, the day on which Sergey and Yuliya Skripal collapsed unconscious.
However, he never boarded that flight. PNR records seen by Bellingcat and its investigative partners show that despite checking in to that flight around noon on March 4, “Fedotov” was a last minute no-show. Instead, using transportation that has yet to be identified by us, he made his way to Rome, and boarded a flight at 15:30 that same day back to Moscow.
Bellingcat says the latest identification was much harder than the previous two but promises that next week it will reveal all the details of how it identified Sergeev.