Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy attack

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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:45 pm

Memorial wall of the Far Eastern Military Command School with Colonel Chepiga as the last name under the Gold Star honor list

Memorial wall, wouldn't that mean his medal was bestowed posthumously?

Same caption on the bellingcat site, by the way.

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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:58 pm

Here's a picture of the same monument from an article in 2016. According to that, it is dedicated to a World War II general. Photo used by Bellingcat below it.



Notice any differences?

Hmmmmm... I do see that based on the flags, the right side is for Russian state soldiers, so they could be adding names. But this one would have been added in recent years. The inclusion of this photo in the Bellingcat report is overkill, not needed for their case. Interesting.

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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:10 pm

Okay, here's a picture from the Russian base's own site, found by google image search command, site:

Photo is on page and dated 4 August 2017. This one has the additional names, including a Chepiga AB, where I guess AB is the colonel's rank.


So that much confirmed.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:40 am

A 3rd Russian agent reportedly went to England to prep the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal

sergei skripal nerve agent hazmat
British authorities reportedly say a third Russian intelligence agent traveled to England to prep for the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. In this photo, police investigate the site of Skripal's collapse.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
British authorities have identified a third agent involved in the attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, The Telegraph reported.
The UK earlier this month accused two Russian intelligence agents of the attempted assassination.
The third agent was also part of Russia's intelligence service, and this person visited England to check out the layout of Skripal's neighborhood before his colleagues arrived, The Telegraph said.
The report comes as the investigative-journalism site Bellingcat identified one of the suspects as Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU, Russia's intelligence service.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied knowledge of the attack. The latest findings may weakening this claim.
A third Russian intelligence agent went to England to plan the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy earlier this year, The Telegraph has reported, casting further doubt on the Kremlin's claims that it had no knowledge of the attack.

The UK in early September accused two Russian men, who traveled under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of the attempted assassination.

British officials say they were members of the GRU, Russia's intelligence service. President Vladimir Putin claimed the two men were civilians, and the two men even appeared on Russian TV to say they were visiting Salisbury as tourists.

Surveillance camera footage of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two suspects in the Skripal attack, at Salisbury train station the day before Skripal's collapse.
London Metropolitan Police
UK counter terrorism police and the security services identified the third agent, and say the person visited Salisbury to prepare for the attack on Sergei Skripal before two of his colleagues arrived, The Telegraph reported on Thursday night.

Authorities believe the third agent visited Salisbury ahead of the attack, and reported the layout of Skripal's neighborhood and property to the two agents who later carried out the attack, the newspaper said.

A composite photo of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed this March after being exposed to novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, which was smeared on his front door.

A British couple who lived nearby were also exposed to the same batch of nerve agent in July, which led to the death of one woman.

The investigative-journalism site Bellingcat this week identified Boshirov as Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU, Russia's intelligence service.

Photographs showing Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, two men accused of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal. Boshirov was identified as Russian intelligence officer Col. Anatoliy Chepiga this week.
London Metropolitan Police
Bellingcat's findings suggest that Putin was in fact aware of the suspect's legal identity, which would seem to disprove the Russian president's claim that he didn't know who Boshirov and Petrov were, that they were civilians, and that the Kremlin had no knowledge of the Skripal attack.

The findings are also in line with the British government's claim, citing security and intelligence agencies' investigations, that Boshirov and Petrov were officers from Russia's intelligence services.

Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month also said that authorization for the attack "almost certainly" came from senior members of the Russian government.

A composite photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Skripal poisoning caused a large diplomatic rift between the UK and Russia. London accused Moscow of being behind the attack, which the Kremlin repeatedly denied. More than 20 countries also joined the UK in expelling Russian diplomats as punishment.

The British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on Thursday suggested that Russia was not expecting such a large international response to the attempted assassination.

Hunt told Sky News on Thursday:

"They can't have been expecting Theresa May to put together a coalition that saw 153 Russian spies expelled from capitals in 28 countries across the world.

"So they paid a very high diplomatic price — but they need to understand that it will not be a comfortable place for Russia in the world if this is the way they behave."

Business Insider has contacted the Russian Embassy in the UK for comment.

The London Metropolitan Police, who is leading the investigation into the attack, declined to comment on The Telegraph's report.

The force told Business Insider in a statement on Thursday that international arrest warrants for Petrov and Boshirov remain active. However, Russia does not extradite its own citizens. ... ?r=UK&IR=T

Carl Schreck (კარლ შრეკი)

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FSB reportedly looking for Interior Ministry officers who might have sold passport info of alleged Salisbury Novichok poisoners to journalists (@bellingcat & @the_ins_ru) or others: … Report by @rosbaltru, which usually has good sources among spooks.

25 сентября 2018, 07:23 54923
Ведется проверка по факту утечки личных данных Петрова и Боширова

ФСБ РФ начала проверку по факту утечки личных данных «солсберийских туристов» Александра Петрова и Руслана Боширова. Речь идет о публикациях их анкет на получение загранпаспортов и данных о пересечении границы РФ.

Как рассказал «Росбалту» источник, знакомый с ситуацией, сейчас ведутся поиски сотрудников МВД РФ, которые продали журналистам (или иным лицам) анкеты и прочие документы на Петрова и Боширова, которые содержат личные данные.

«В отношении лиц, предоставивших эти сведения, будут приняты серьезные меры», — рассказал собеседник агентства.

Подробнее можно прочитать здесь.

‘Real identity’ of Skripal poisoning suspect revealed
British prime minister Theresa May rails against Russia for its ‘desperate fabrication’

Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 19:22 Updated: Wed, Sep 26, 2018, 19:26

Men claiming to be Russian nationals Ruslan Boshirov (left) and Alexander Petrov, the two suspects in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, appear in an interview on Russian state television. Video: RT

The real identity of one of the men wanted by Britain for the Salisbury nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter is Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga, according to media reports on Wednesday which said he was a decorated Russian colonel.
Earlier this month, British prosecutors charged two Russians – Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – with attempted murder for the Novichok poisoning of the Skripals in March. But they believed the suspects had been using aliases to enter Britain.

The Daily Telegraph and the BBC said Boshirov’s real name was Chepiga, citing investigative reporting by Bellingcat, a website which covers intelligence matters. Two European security sources familiar with the Skripal investigation said the details were accurate. While the two men have said they were merely tourists the British government knows their actual identities, sources close to the investigation have said.
Russia denies any involvement in the poisoning. But the Telegraph reported that Chepiga (39) had served in Chechnya and Ukraine. Moreover, he was made a Hero of the Russian Federation by decree of President Vladimir Putin in 2014.

Theresa May reacts
Following the reports British prime minister Theresa May attacked Russia for its “desperate fabrication” over the Salisbury spy poisoning as she addressed world leaders in New York.
Britain has set out detailed evidence about the suspects while Russia has sought only to “obfuscate”, said the prime minister.
“We have taken appropriate action, with our allies, and we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure our collective security. Russia has only sought to obfuscate through desperate fabrication,” she told the United Nations Security Council.
The two were identified by the UK as members of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service.
Mrs May called on Russia to rejoin the international consensus against the use of chemical weapons. And she said there should be no doubt of the international community’s determination to take action if it did not.

“We cannot let the framework be undermined today by those who reject the values and disregard the rules that have kept us safe. It will take collective engagement to reinforce it in the face of today’s challenges. And in this, as has always been the case, the UK will play a leading role,” she said. – Reuters/PA ... -1.3642600
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 02, 2018 7:07 pm

Skripal poisoning: Reporter behind Salisbury exposé flees Russia
Marc Bennetts, Moscow
October 1 2018, 12:01am,

Sergei Kanev revealed the name of one of the two agents alleged to have poisoned Sergei Skripal
One of the journalists claiming to have unmasked the true identity of a suspect in the Salisbury poisonings has fled Russia, fearing that security service officials are planning to accuse him of involvement in a plot to assassinate President Putin.

Sergei Kanev works for The Insider, an opposition website that co-authored the report last week naming Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga as one of the two alleged Russian intelligence agents who travelled to Britain in March to try to murder Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, with novichok.

The Times understands that British officials do not dispute the report’s findings. Mr Putin had previously insisted that the suspects were civilians.

Anatoliy Chepiga was using the alias Ruslan Boshirov ... -lrsw67r28

'He was a good kid': Skripal poisoning suspect chose Russian army career after a childhood around soldiers

The childhood home of military intelligence colonel Anatoly Chepiga, who travelled to Salisbury under the alias of Ruslan Boshirov CREDIT: ALEC LUHN/FOR THE TELEGRAPH

Alec Luhn, berezovka
30 SEPTEMBER 2018 • 8:38PM
The man accused of poisoning Sergei Skripal grew up in a family with ties to the Russian army and signed up for officer training straight out of school, according to neighbours from his home town near the Chinese border.

Anatoly Chepiga, who neighbours confirmed is the true identity of one of the alleged Salisbury nerve agent attackers, was raised in a single-storey white-brick house with a corrugated iron roof directly across a dirt road from the high school where he was a star footballer. ... my-career/

Journalist says Skripal suspect helped Yanukovych to flee Ukraine

By Yuliana Romanyshyn. Published Oct. 1. Updated Oct. 1 at 7:45 pm

This combination of undated handout pictures released by the British Metropolitan Police Service created in London on on September 05, 2018 shows Ruslan Boshirov (L) and Alexander Petrov, who are wanted by British police in connection with the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Russian intelligence officer Anatoliy Chepiga, earlier named by UK police as Ruslan Boshirov, a suspect in poisoning of ex-Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in the UK, may have participated in the evacuation of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych from Ukraine in February 2014.

Serhiy Kaniev, the journalist who took part in the Skripal investigation of Russian The Insider and British Bellingcat, told Ukrainian news outlet Hromadske that Chepiga allegedly headed the operation to evacuate Yanukovych to Russia.

Yanukovych fled Ukraine on Feb. 23, days after a mass shooting of protesters by his security forces and the end of EuroMaidan Revolution. He was first transported to Crimea, and then to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

Chepiga was identified by the British investigative team Bellingcat on Sept. 26. as a highly decorated colonel of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service. Bellingcat also said Chepiga had won Russia’s highest state award, the Hero of the Russian Federation medal. Chepiga is one of the two main suspects in the poisoning of ex-intelligence agent Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

“Chepiga took part in Yanukovych’s evacuation to Russia,” Kaniev told Hromadske on Oct. 1. “At least this is what my sources have evidenced. He and his special forces subdivision were at Yanukovych’s residence Mezhyhirya. He was there, he guarded him. From there they transported him to Crimea and then to Russia.”

Kaniev said that the state award was granted to Chepiga for his participation in Yanukovych’s evacuation.

A former security guard of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Alexei Dyumin, also received the same state award for an operation in Crimea, Kaniev said.

Kaniev was reported by Ukrainian media to have fled Russia on Sept. 29.
Yanukovych has been on trial in Obolon district court in absentia since May 2017 on charges of high treason. ... raine.html
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:14 am

Russian spies ‘tried to hack’ chemicals watchdog probing Novichok attack

Russia’s military intelligence service has been accused of trying to hack the global chemical weapons watchdog which is investigating the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Officials in the Netherlands, where the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is based, said four Russians had been expelled after the alleged cyber strike.

British intelligence helped thwart the operation which was launched in April, a month after the Salisbury Novichok poisoning which targeted Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

Details were revealed on Thursday after the UK Government accused the GRU of a wave of other cyber attacks across the globe.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the operation “further shone a light on the unacceptable cyber activities” of the GRU and demonstrated its “disregard for the global values and rules that keep us safe”.

The team of four GRU officers travelling on official Russian passports entered the Netherlands on April 10.

On April 13 they parked a car carrying specialist hacking equipment outside the headquarters of the OPCW in The Hague.

At that point Dutch counter-terrorism officers intervened to disrupt the operation and the four GRU officers were ordered to leave the country.

The four Russian intelligence officers at Schiphol Airport. (Picture: Dutch Defence Ministry)
The “close access” hacking attempt followed a failed “spearphishing attack” on the OPCW headquarters.

Two of the officers were planning to travel on to Switzerland where the OPCW – which was at the time investigating the Salisbury attack and a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria – has laboratories.

Dutch authorities released CCTV images of the four men arriving at Schiphol Airport as well photographs of their passports.

They were named in them as Alekski Morenets, described as a cyber operator, Evgenii Serebriakov, also a cyber operator, Oleg Soktnikov, described as humint (human intelligence) support, and Alexey Minin, also humint support.

The attempt on the OPCW headquarters followed unsuccessful “spearphishing” attacks by the GRU on the UK Foreign Office and on the defence laboratories at Porton Down, which was also investigating the Salisbury attack.

Peter Wilson, the UK’s ambassador to the Netherlands, said the hacking attack happened when the “OPCW was working to independently verify the United Kingdom’s analysis of the chemical weapons used in the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury”.

Mr Wilson also accused one of the GRU officers escorted out of the Netherlands of targeting the Malaysian investigation into the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, when more than 300 people travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur died.

The OPCW has confirmed the toxic chemical that killed Dawn Sturgess in Amesbury was the same nerve agent as that which poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal three months earlier.

UK authorities believe two Russians, using the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, smeared the highly toxic Novichok on a door handle at the Wiltshire home of Mr Skripal on March 4.

The attack left Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia critically ill, and Ms Sturgess, 44, who was later exposed to the same nerve agent, died in July.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the UK’s Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted: “The catalogue of evidence shows why the Dutch are excellent partners and that the decades of theft have stripped Russia’s intelligence of the skills they once had. Putin’s corrupt greed has turned the GRU into an amateurish bunch of jokers.”

The catalogue of evidence shows why the Dutch are excellent partners and that the decades of theft have stripped Russia’s intelligence of the skills they once had. Putin’s corrupt greed has turned the GRU into an amateurish bunch of jokers.

— Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) October 4, 2018
Earlier British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the GRU was waging a campaign of “indiscriminate and reckless” cyber strikes targeting political institutions, businesses, media and sport.

The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said a number of hackers known to have launched attacks have been linked to the GRU.

The NCSC associated four new attacks with the GRU, on top of previous strikes believed to have been conducted by Russian intelligence.

Among targets of the GRU attacks were the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), transport systems in Ukraine, and democratic elections, such as the 2016 US presidential race, according to the NCSC.

The centre said it was “almost certainly” the GRU behind a “BadRabbit”attack in October 2017 that caused disruption to the Kiev metro, Odessa airport and Russia’s central bank.

Britain’s cyber security chiefs say they have “high confidence” Russian intelligence was responsible for a strike on Wada in August 2017.

The NCSC also said the GRU was “almost certainly” to blame for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the US presidential election in 2016.

And the agency pointed the finger at the GRU for accessing email accounts at a small UK-based TV station in 2015.

- Press Association ... 73530.html

04 October 2018 - 12H53
Dutch 'thwart Russian cyber attack on chemical weapons watchdog'

© AFP/File | The Dutch government said the Russians set up a car with electronic equipment in the car park of a hotel next to the OPCW building
Dutch intelligence thwarted a Russian cyber attack targeting the global chemical weapons watchdog in April and expelled four Russian agents, the government said Thursday.

The Russians set up a car full of electronic equipment in the car park of a hotel next to the Organisation for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons in The Hague in a bid to hack into its computer system, it said.

"The Dutch government finds the involvement of these intelligence operatives extremely worrisome," Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld told a news conference.

"Normally we don't reveal this type of counter-intelligence operation."

The Netherlands publicly identified the alleged Russian agents and said the operation was carried out by Russia's GRU military intelligence agency, Dutch officials said.

Britain helped the Netherlands with the operation, they added.

A laptop belonging to one of the four was linked to Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia. The activities in Malaysia were related to the investigation into the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine, Bijleveld added.

At the time of the attack the OPCW was investigating the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England. Dutch officials said it was not clear if the cyber operation was linked to that.

The head of the Dutch MIVD intelligence service, Major-General Onno Eichelsheim, told the news conference that the men travelled to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on April 4 on Russian diplomatic passports.

An official from the Russian embassy escorted them to The Hague, he said.

On April 11 they then hired a Citroen C3 and scouted the area around the OPCW -- all the time being watched by Dutch intelligence.

"They were trying to commit a close access hack operation," he said.

- 'Clearly not on holiday' -

The Russians set up in the Marriott Hotel next door to the OPCW and took photos, while parking the car at the hotel with the boot facing the OPCW, he said.

In the boot was electronic equipment to intercept the OPCW's WiFfi as will as log in codes at the organisation, with the antenna hidden in the back of the car facing the OPCW.

"We intercepted it and expelled the four men from the country. It was a successful operation."

The Dutch spy chief said the Russians had originally taken a taxi from a GRU base in Moscow to the airport, and some of their mobile phones were activated in Moscow near the agency's headquarters.

When leaving The Hague, the men took all the rubbish from their room in a further bid to cover their tracks.

"They were clearly not here on holiday," said Eichelsheim.

News of the Dutch operation came a day after Britain and Australia blamed the GRU for some of the biggest cyber attacks of recent years -- including one on the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

They said the Russian military intelligence service could have only been conducting operations of such scale on Kremlin orders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly and angrily rejected similar charges. He told US President Donald Trump during a July summit in Helsinki that talk of Russia meddling in the 2016 election was "nonsense". ... s-watchdog

UK, Netherlands accuse Russia of hacking, including chemical weapons watchdog

* Dutch say they captured Russians trying to hack OPCW

* UK accuses Russian GRU spy agency of global cyber attacks

* Moscow denies "diabolical perfume cocktail" of allegations

By Guy Faulconbridge and Anthony Deutsch

LONDON/THE HAGUE, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Britain and the Netherlands accused Russia of running a global campaign of cyber attacks to undermine Western democracies, including what the Dutch government described as an attempt to hack into the U.N. chemical weapons watchdog.

Moscow denied what its Foreign Ministry spokeswoman called a "diabolical perfume cocktail" of allegations by someone with a "rich imagination". But the accusations will deepen Moscow's isolation at a time when its diplomatic ties with the West have been downgraded over the poisoning of a spy in England and it is under U.S. and European sanctions over its actions in Ukraine.

Dutch authorities said they had disrupted an attempt to hack into the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in April. At the time, the U.N. watchdog was investigating the poison used to attack an ex-spy in Britain and chemical weapons which the West says were used in Syria by Russia's ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld called on Russia to cease its cyber activities aimed at "undermining" Western democracies.

According to a presentation by the head of the Netherlands' military intelligence agency, four Russians arrived in the Netherlands on April 10 and were caught with spying equipment at a hotel located next to the OPCW headquarters.

The four Russians in the Netherlands were detained on April 13 and expelled to Russia, Dutch Major General Onno Eichelsheim said. They had planned to travel on to a laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland used by the OPCW to analyse samples, he said.

Russian military intelligence "is active here in the Netherlands ... where a lot of international organisations are (based)," Eichelsheim said.


Earlier on Thursday, Britain released an assessment based on work by its National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which cast Russia's GRU military intelligence agency as a cyber aggressor which used a network of hackers to sow worldwide discord.

The GRU, Britain said, was almost certainly behind the BadRabbit and World Anti-Doping Agency attacks of 2017, the hack of the U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016 and the theft of emails from a UK-based TV station in 2015.

"The GRU's actions are reckless and indiscriminate: they try to undermine and interfere in elections in other countries," said British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

"Our message is clear - together with our allies, we will expose and respond to the GRU's attempts to undermine international stability," Hunt said.

The GRU, now officially known in Russia by a shorter acronym GU, is also the agency Britain has blamed in the past for sending two agents to England to poison former spy Sergei Skripal with a chemical weapon sprayed in his door.

Skripal, his daughter and a police officer fell seriously ill; a woman later died after her partner found the poison in a discarded perfume bottle. Russia says the two men Britain blames for the attack were tourists who twice visited Skripal's home town during a weekend trip to England, a story Britain says is so far-fetched as to prove Moscow's culpability.

After the Skripal poisoning, dozens of Western countries launched the biggest expulsion of Russian spies working under diplomatic cover since the height of the Cold War. Moscow replied with tit-for-tat expulsions of Westerners.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB spy, said on Wednesday that Skripal, a GRU officer who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain's MI6 foreign spy service, was a "scumbag" who had betrayed Russia.

Britain said the GRU was associated with a host of hackers including APT 28, Fancy Bear, Sofacy, Pawnstorm, Sednit, CyberCaliphate, Cyber Berkut, Voodoo Bear and BlackEnergy Actors.

"This pattern of behaviour demonstrates their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences," Hunt said.

The United States sanctioned GRU officers including its chief, Igor Korobov, in 2016 and 2018 for attempted interference in the 2016 U.S. election and cyber attacks.

Australia and New Zealand backed the United Kingdom's findings on the GRU.

"Cyberspace is not the Wild West. The International Community – including Russia – has agreed that international law and norms of responsible state behaviour apply in cyberspace," Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

"By embarking on a pattern of malicious cyber behaviour, Russia has shown a total disregard for the agreements it helped to negotiate," Morrison said. (Additional reporting by Colin Packham, Stephanie van den Berg, Toby Sterling; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Janet Lawrence
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 16, 2018 3:30 pm

Sergei Skripal briefed Swiss intelligence services on Russian spy unit accused of poisoning him

Sergei Skripal was briefing Swiss intelligence services on an investigation into the Russian spy unit accused of poisoning him, it has emerged.

Skripal spent a week in Switzerland briefing its federal intelligence service in the summer of 2017, just three months after the Swiss had opened an official inquiry into Russian cyber hacking.

The cyber attack in March 2017 on the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) based in Lausanne is now known to have been conducted by the GRU, the Russian military intelligence unit behind the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

The Kremlin was trying to unearth material to discredit Wada, which had investigated allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russian sport leading... ... ssian-spy/
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:31 am

Novichok inside bottle used to poison Sergei Skripal ‘could have killed thousands of people’, investigator says

Police officer says 'significant amount' of deadly nerve agent was left inside fake perfume bottle

20 hours ago
The amount of novichok inside the bottle used to poison Sergei Skripal could have killed thousands of people, an investigator has said.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, who is leading the investigation into the Salisbury attack, said there was a “significant amount” of nerve agent left when the weapon was discovered by officers inside a victim’s home.

When asked how many people it could have killed he told BBC Panorama: “It’s difficult to say, you know, possibly into the thousands … the amount that was in the bottle and the way it was applied to the Skripals’ home address was completely reckless.”

Novichok was smuggled into the UK inside a counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle fitted with a special pump, which was used by two Russian assassins to spread the substance on Mr Skripal’s front door in March.

Police believe the spies then dumped the bottle in a part of Salisbury where it was accidentally picked up by Charlie Rowley on 27 June.

Three days later, he gave the “perfume” to his partner Dawn Sturgess as a present.

Trump suggests 'vicious world' should be blamed for Khashoggi murder while disputing Saudi responsibility

The mother-of-three died days after applying the substance directly on to her wrists, while Mr Rowley fell seriously ill after getting novichok on his hands while attempting to attach the applicator.

Bottle discovered by police at nerve agent victim Charlie Rowley’s home (AFP/Getty)
The government accused Russia of using British streets, parks and towns as “dumping grounds for poison” after the incident, which provoked fresh public health fears following assurances Salisbury had been safely decontaminated.

Sam Hobson, a friend of Mr Rowley’s, told Panorama: “He said he’d found a perfume bottle and he gave it to Dawn. Dawn recognised the brand and said it was a good one. She sprayed it on to her wrists and smelled it and obviously Charlie got a bit on his hands and it was like an oily substance he said and so he washed it off.”

Mr Rowley, 45, was discharged from hospital in July but has since been readmitted for sight problems and meningitis.

Mr Skripal, his daughter Yulia Skripal and a police officer who was the first to enter the home all survived the initial attack after undergoing intensive treatment.

The government scientist who identified the substance used at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down described his shock at finding novichok.

Professor Tim, whose surname cannot be revealed for security reasons, said: “It was a jaw-dropping moment.

“I went through a number of emotions from disbelief to anger. It’s one of the most dangerous substances known. It’s quite unique in its ability to poison individuals at very low concentrations.”

Police combed through more than 11,000 hours of CCTV to trace the suspected perpetrators, who have been identified by the government as two agents from Russia’s GRU intelligence service.

Mr Skripal was a colonel in the agency before passing secrets to Britain as a double agent, and was jailed for treason in Russia before being handed over to the UK in a 2010 spy swap.

Police release images of suspects in connection with Salisbury attack

Show all 19

Police have conceded that the “brutal truth” is that if the suspects do not enter an allied country and get caught, the UK will be powerless to bring them to trial, mirroring thwarted efforts to prosecute those responsible for assassinating Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.

Mr Haydon said police were still conducting a “live inquiry” into the involvement of further suspects.

“My ambition remains to bring these two individuals and anyone else involved in this attack plot to justice, you know through the British criminal justice system. I will not give up,” he added.

The suspect who entered Britain under a fake passport in the name of Alexander Petrov has been identified as Dr Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, while his accomplice “Ruslan Boshirov” is Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga.

The men appeared on Russian state-owned television to claim they were sports supplement salesmen on a three-day holiday to the UK. They said they travelled to Salisbury two days in a row because of its “internationally famous” cathedral, known “for its 123m spire”.

Investigators at Bellingcat said both officers had been awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation honour and are believed to have met Vladimir Putin.

The Russian president has denied any involvement in either the Salisbury or Amesbury poisoning, and the Kremlin has spread conspiracy theories while accusing the UK of promoting “Russophobia”.

But British ministers have said the operation was approved at the “highest level of the Russian government”. ... 47246.html

Skripal poisoning: CCTV shows suspects 'on way to victims' home' ... ctims-home
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:06 pm

Natasha Bertrand

Verified account

2h2 hours ago

Big: A fake LinkedIn profile linking poisoned double agent Sergei Skripal to Christopher Steele—which prompted conspiracy theories about MI6’s role in the Novichok attack—was allegedly created by the GRU more than a year before Skripal was poisoned.

Telegraph News
Kremlin accused of laying false trail linking Sergei Skripal to ex-MI6 officer behind Trump dossier

Sergei Skripal in his days as GRU colonel

Robert Mendick, chief reporter
20 JANUARY 2019 • 10:00PM
Russian intelligence created a false trail linking the double agent Sergei Skripal to the former MI6 officer behind the Trump dossier before carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack, the Telegraph has been told.

Well-placed sources now believe that the plot to kill Col Skripal may have included a ‘black ops’ attempt to sow doubt on the veracity of the explosive dossier that claims Donald Trump received Kremlin backing.

The year before the attempted assassination of Col Skripal, a mysterious post on LinkedIn suggested his MI6 handler, who is not being named, worked as a “senior analyst” at Orbis Business Intelligence, the firm that produced the Trump dossier.

Orbis was co-founded by Christopher... ... kripal-ex/

The Telegraph: Kremlin accused of laying false trail linking Sergei Skripal to ex-MI6 officer behind Trump dossierPicture: AFPLondon. Russian intelligence created a false trail linking the double agent Sergei Skripal to the former MI6 officer behind the Trump dossier before carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack, the Telegraph has been told, The Telegraph reports.
Well-placed sources now believe that the plot to kill Col Skripal may have included a ‘black ops’ attempt to sow doubt on the veracity of the explosive dossier that claims Donald Trump received Kremlin backing.
The year before the attempted assassination of Col Skripal, a mysterious post on LinkedIn suggested his MI6 handler, who is not being named, worked as a “senior analyst” at Orbis Business Intelligence, the firm that produced the Trump dossier. ... ssier.html
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby MacCruiskeen » Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:02 pm

"Well placed sources"


"may have"


"accused of [by whom?]"

"the Torygraph has been told [by whom??]"

seemslikeadream » Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:06 pm wrote:

Natasha Bertrand

Verified account

2h2 hours ago

Big: A fake LinkedIn profile linking poisoned double agent Sergei Skripal to Christopher Steele—which prompted conspiracy theories about MI6’s role in the Novichok attack—was allegedly created by the GRU more than a year before Skripal was poisoned.

Telegraph News
Kremlin accused of laying false trail linking Sergei Skripal to ex-MI6 officer behind Trump dossier

Sergei Skripal in his days as GRU colonel

Robert Mendick, chief reporter
20 JANUARY 2019 • 10:00PM
Russian intelligence created a false trail linking the double agent Sergei Skripal to the former MI6 officer behind the Trump dossier before carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack, the Telegraph has been told.

Well-placed sources now believe that the plot to kill Col Skripal may have included a ‘black ops’ attempt to sow doubt on the veracity of the explosive dossier that claims Donald Trump received Kremlin backing.


"Big." Huge. Like, world-shaking.

Any intelligent 12-year-old could see through this never-ending piss-poor warmongering propaganda campaign.
There sawe I fyrst the derke ymagynyng
Of felony [...]
The pyckpurse and eke the pale drede,
The smyler, with the knyfe under the cloke.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:34 pm

that's where my red pen went
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby Grizzly » Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:17 pm

If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:27 pm

I like cartoons too Griz


trumprussia .tiff
trumprussia .tiff (867.06 KiB) Viewed 1323 times

Salisbury poisoning: EU sanctions Russian suspects

Composite of suspects Alexander Mishkin (aka Alexander Petrov) and Anatoliy Chepiga (aka Ruslan Boshirov). Issued 05 Sept 2018Metropolitan Police
"Alexander Petrov" (left) and "Ruslan Boshirov" were unmasked as agents for Russian intelligence
The European Union has put sanctions on senior officials from the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU, over the Salisbury poisonings.

Four people have been sanctioned - including the head of the GRU, deputy head, and two agents who are believed to have carried out the attack.

The Novichok nerve agent they used severely poisoned three people and killed a fourth, Dawn Sturgess.

The sanctions put a ban on travel to the EU and freezes any assets there.

They also prevent any person or company in the EU from providing any financial support to those affected.

This is the first time the EU has used its new powers to sanction those connected to chemical weapons manufacture and use, which it created in October last year.

All four GRU staff remain in Russia, which will not extradite them to face charges.

In a statement, the EU said:

Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin "possessed, transported and then, during the weekend of 4 March 2018, in Salisbury, used a toxic nerve agent" for which the UK has charged them with attempted murder
Igor Olegovich Kostyukov, head of the GRU, and Vladimir Stepanovich Alexseyev, the deputy head, are both accused, "given his senior leadership role" to be "responsible for the possession, transport and use" of the nerve agent
The intended target of the attack, Sergei Skripal, survived despite being severely poisoned, as did his daughter Yulia. Their whereabouts are kept secret.

But months after the initial poisoning, a resident of nearby Amesbury, Dawn Sturgess, died of Novichok poisoning. Her partner, Charlie Rowley, had found a bottle in a perfume box and had given it to her.

It contained the nerve agent, apparently discarded after the attack on the Skripals. Mr Rowley was also poisoned, but survived.

The sanctioning of the two agents comes after months of insistence from Moscow that there is no evidence to show their guilt.

On the trail of Russians Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who UK police believe carried out a nerve agent attack in Salisbury in March 2018
In the aftermath of the poisoning, UK police released the names and photographs of Mr Chepiga and Mr Mishkin, who had used the pseudonyms Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, having traced their steps meticulously through CCTV footage.

Despite the presence of the two Russian intelligence agents in Salisbury at the time and the use of a nerve agent believed to have been made in Russia, Moscow insisted the men were innocent.

Skripal suspects: 'We were just tourists'
Amesbury poisoning: What we know so far
The Salisbury poisoning: What happened next?
In an interview on state-run television channel RT, the pair said they were merely tourists, denied having travelled under fake names, and said they had made the journey to see the city's cathedral. The appearance was widely ridiculed and the story labelled implausible.

Their identities, at least, are now widely agreed upon: the EU listed the two agent's real names, along with dates and places of birth, in its sanctions list.

After the EU announced its sanctions, Russia's foreign ministry threatened retaliation "against this unfriendly action".

It said the sanctions were adopted under the "pretext" that the pair were involved in the Salisbury attack, but maintained that the accusations against them "do not stand up to scrutiny".

"The information campaign unleashed by the British authorities on this case pursues, first of all, domestic political goals," it said, highlighting the current "crisis" over Brexit.

It also accused the EU of circumventing the United Nations Security Council and taking unilateral action.

Alongside the Russian GRU agents, five people from a Syrian institute widely held responsible for damaging chemical weapons, the Scientific Studies and Research Centre, were also hit with the same sanctions.
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Re: Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back Russia over spy att

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 15, 2019 9:50 am

Third Suspect in Skripal Poisoning Identified as Denis Sergeev, High-Ranking GRU Officer

February 14, 2019 By Moritz Rakuszitzky
Bellingcat previously confirmed that a third GRU officer was present in the UK during the time Sergey and Yulia Skripal fell into a coma, after what the UK authorities said was a deliberate poisoning with Novichok. In addition, Bellingcat established that this same officer traveled multiple times to Bulgaria during 2015, including a trip days before a Bulgarian arms trader and his son were severely poisoned with a yet-unidentified poison.

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.


Additional research in this investigation was also made by newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (Finland).

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. Additional details on these concerted efforts to purge public records of Chepiga, Mishkin, and Sergeev’s identities will be detailed in the next part of our investigation, scheduled to come out next week.

Who is Denis Sergeev?

Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev was born in Usharal, a small militarized town in what was at the time Soviet Kazakhstan, near the Soviet-China border. Both Denis Sergeev and his cover identity “Sergey Fedotov” were born on 17 September 1973. He served in the army in the southern Russian city of Novorossiisk in the Krasnodar Region.

At some point between 2000 and 2002, he was transferred to Moscow and enrolled at the elite Military Diplomatic Academy, popularly known in Russia as the “GRU Conservatory”. The Military Diplomatic Academy churns out 100 elite intelligence officers each year, ranging from spies in diplomatic and military attache covers to illegals.

We have not established what Denis Sergeev’s service prior to the Academy involved; however, it is known that recruitment into the Academy takes place among military officers with the minimum rank of captain who have excelled at their military service, traditionally in Spetsnaz or navy units. Like all other graduates, Sergeev would have finished the Academy with a minimum rank of lieutenant-colonel. While we have no confirmation of his current military rank, the time served and the nature of his assignments since graduation indicate he currently holds a minimum rank of full colonel, and possibly major-general.

Denis Sergeev is married and has an adult daughter.

2004 to 2012 Period

During this period, which possibly overlapped with his last years at the Military Diplomatic Academy, Denis Sergeev, under his real identity, served as shareholder and/or managing director of eight Russian companies. These companies, all of which were liquidated between 2007 and 2012, were sham corporations with names mimicking names of other large companies registered in Russia. In most of the companies, Sergeev was the sole shareholder, while in two he was co-shareholder with other people, some of whom we also identified as GRU officers.

We established that during 2009, Denis Sergeev obtained a personal loan from a Russian bank in the amount of just over one million USD. The allocation of such a large loan to a person who – as seen from his credit record (obtained from a leaked Russian credit history collection) – had no real estate and no personal vehicle – is extraordinary. The loan appears to have been extended on the strength of Denis Sergeev’s personal income in his declared role as “specialist” working for a company called Loreven Style Ltd specializing in consulting services.


In a 2010 census, Sergeev listed Loreven Style Ltd as his employer, and indicated a Riga-based company address. There are no records of a company with such name ever existing, either in Riga or anywhere. Two phone numbers listed as contacts are not in service.

It is not certain what the function of the many sham companies incorporated by Sergeev was, and whether it was linked to the loan amount of $1 million apparently obtained from a Russian bank. A review of some of the other shareholders in these companies – some of which also with GRU links – shows that they too incorporated dozens of companies with similar profiles, all of which have since been liquidated. It is plausible that these companies may have been used for money laundering purposes, or as cover corporations providing “respectable employment” to other GRU undercover officers, for instance in the context of visa applications. Bellingcat will continue to investigate these companies’ purpose and potential use by the GRU within or outside Russia.

The Birth of Sergey Fedotov

In 2010, Denis Sergeev received his alter ego, “Sergey Vyacheslavovich Fedotov”. A new, valid passport was issued under this name, by the same “770001” passport desk in Moscow that issued cover passports to Mishkin, Chepiga other GRU operatives, and “VIP” citizens, as previously detailed by Bellingcat.

“Fedotov” was given a birth date matching the one of the actual person Denis Sergeev. His place of birth was moved from Kazakhstan to the village of Apushka in the Ryazan region of Russia. As in the case of the other undercover passports issued to Mishkin and Chepiga, the “reason” for issuance of the new passport was stated as “unsuitability for use” of the previous passport. As in the other cases, the previous passport listed never actually existed.

“Sergey Fedotov” was also assigned a residential address and an employer. The new Moscow address in fact belonged to an unrelated family bearing the same family name (we were unable to contact the family to find out if they were aware of their cohabitation with the GRU officer, due to the fact that all four of their phone numbers were disconnected).

The employer, listed as a company called “Business-Courier”, could not be established definitively. There are more than 25 Russian companies that carry or had this name, including ones that were liquidated in the same period as the batch in which Denis Sergeev was a shareholder.

In a 2017 census, “Sergey Fedotov” listed his income as the equivalent of USD $1000 per month. He did not list an employer in this census.

An International Man of Mystery

Using four different airline booking, PNR, and border-crossing databases, Bellingcat has collated and analyzed travel records for the persona “Sergey Fedotov” for the period of 2012-2018. He used two different (consecutive) passports during this period–both of which were issued by the same 770001 passport desk and had numbers from batches that we have identified to include other GRU undercover officers.


Fedotov’s itinerary shows extensive travel to destinations across Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. In the period of 2012-2013, his destinations included Ukraine and Tajikistan.

In 2014, Fedotov traveled to Czechia, Italy, and Switzerland. Notably, during his first trip to Prague at the end of January 2014, he traveled alongside “Alexander Petrov”, the cover persona of Dr. Alexander Mishkin, one of the key suspects in the Skripal poisonings. The two stayed in Prague eight days, until 2 February 2014, when they flew back to Moscow. Bellingcat’s investigative partner Respekt has established that during this trip, “Fedotov” and “Petrov” stayed at the four-star Best Western Meteor Plaza Hotel, where they shared a room.

“Fedotov” made two subsequent trips to Western Europe during the rest of 2014, visiting Milan, Geneva, and Paris. His last trip that year was from 12 November to 1 December 2014, when he traveled to and from Paris.

Bulgarian Events

In February 2015, Fedotov made his first trip to Bulgaria. On 15 February 2015 he flew from Moscow to Belgrade in neighboring Serbia. On the next day he traveled on to Bulgaria, and stayed there until February 22, when he flew back from Sofia to Moscow.

His second trip, which was previously reported by Bellingcat, was in April 2015. He landed in the seaside resort of Burgas on a direct flight from Moscow on 24 April 2015. While he had bought a return flight from Sofia to Moscow on 30 April 2015, he did not use that ticket. Instead, on the evening of April 28 at 20:20, he flew from Sofia to Istanbul, where he bought an onward ticket to Moscow that same night.

It was earlier that same day, April 28, that the Bulgarian arms manufacturer and trader Emilian Gebrev collapsed during a dinner event with his trading partners from Poland at an upscale Sofia restaurant. Mr. Gebrev’s health deteriorated fast and he slipped into a coma. He was treated for poisoning from an unidentified substance at the Military Medical Hospital in Sofia. A source from the medial institution who wished to remain anonymous confirmed to Bellingcat and its investigative partners that Mr. Gebrev’s state was “touch and go” for over two weeks, with his chances of survival at times deemed to be very low. Gebrev’s son and the commercial director of one of his manufacturing companies also fell ill with signs of poisoning in the days following his own collapse, albeit with lesser symptoms.

Following his release from hospital, and given that the poison had not been identified, Emilian Gebrev requested a forensic medical analysis from two European labs accredited by the OPCW. One of them – the Helsinki-based Verifin – conducted a detailed analysis on urine samples from Mr. Gebrev and his son. As previously reported, this analysis found traces of organo-phospate poisoning, with two distinct types of agent discovered in the sample of Patient 1, who is presumed to be Mr. Gebrev. One of the types was broadly identified by Verifin as a pesticide, while the other was not identified.

In a statement to the press on 11 February 2019 in the wake of Bellingcat’s first publication pinpointing “Fedotov”‘s presence in Buglaria during the time of Gebrev’s poisoning, Bulgaria’s General Prosecutor confirmed Fedotov’s concurrent presence in the country. He also confirmed that Bulgarian authorities have re-opened investigation into Gebrev’s 2015 poisoning, which had been closed in 2016 when no suspect had been identified. Mr. Tzatzarov said that the investigation had been reopened after Mr. Gebrev had written to the prosecutors in October 2018, having seen coverage of the Novichok poisonings in the UK and suspecting he may have been targeted in similar circumstances. Mr. Tzatzarov also confirmed that Bulgarian and UK law enforcement had been cooperating on the case since October 2018. He, however, appeared to discount the hypothesis that the 2015 poisonings in Bulgaria may have been linked to poisoning agents of the Novichok family, which he substantiated with the fact that “no chemicals in the CWC (Convention of Chemical Weapons) lists of banned substances were found in extensive testing”.

Bellingcat and its reporting partners approached several experts on chemical weapons for further comments on the possible poison used in Bulgaria, based on the symptoms described and the full report from Verifin.

All consulted experts, including Vil Mirzyanov, who worked on the development of Novichok as part of the Soviet Unioin’s secret chemical weapons program, concurred that the Verifin report cannot conclusively prove or disprove whether Novichok, or a similar substance, was used in the poisoning of Mr. Gebrev. Speaking to Bellingcat, Mr. Mirzyanov said that standard OPCW-standard compliant tests like the analysis conducted by Verifin are not suited to identify the use of Novichok, which is not а part of the banned list of substances under the CWC. Mr. Mirzyanov confirmed that a repeat test by the same laboratory, targeted specifically at the possible metabolysed traces and artifacts left by Novichok poisoning, is likely to prove or disprove the Novichok theory.

Verifin has confirmed to our reporting partner Helsingin Sanomat that it holds patient samples for a minimum of five years, which would mean that Mr. Gebrev’s samples are available for re-testing at least until June 2020. Verifin has confirmed to the reporting team that if requested by the patient, a custom-tailored analysis could be performed.

“Fedotov” returned to Sofia on a direct flight from Moscow once more, on 23 May 2015. He left the country on 29 May 2015 by car, crossing into Serbia in the company of two Russian citizens. According to sources in Bulgarian law enforcement interviewed by our reporting partner in Bulgaria,, one of the two companions had been present in London during the poisoning of the Skripals in March 2018. Fedotov flew from Belgrade to Moscow on the next day, 30 May 2015. This return visit to Bulgaria broadly coincided with Mr. Gebrev’s release from hospital, and subsequent reentry with renewed poisoning symptoms.

2016 and 2017 Hotspots

Following his Bulgaria trips, Fedotov made one more trip five-day trip to Turkey in August 2015.

During 2016, he traveled to London twice. His first visit was at the end of March, and he stayed in London six days until 1 April 2016. He returned to London for a four-day visit on 14 July 2016. Notably, or perhaps entirely coincidentally, these two trips were shortly before and after the Brexit referendum.

On 5 November 2016, Fedotov flew to Barcelona, and left back to Moscow from Zurich six days later. He returned to Barcelona one more time: on 29 September 2017, two days before the Catalunya independence referendum. Once gain, by coincidence or otherwise, Fedotov remained in Spain during the October 1 vote, and flew back via Geneva to Moscow on 9 October 2017. He flew back to Geneva one more time three weeks later, on October 30, and returned to Moscow on 8 November 2017.

The Skripal Poisoning

At the end of 2017, Fedotov took a trip to Armenia. He stayed there between 23 December and 2 January 2018. Only a week later, he flew to Zurich on January 10 and returned from Geneva on 17 January 2018. This would be his last trip before the London visit during which the Skripals were poisoned.

Traveling as “Fedotov”, Denis Sergeev arrived in London early in the morning of 2 March 2018, leaving Moscow at 7:00 on Aeroflot flight SU 2580. The other two suspects, Mishkin and Chepiga, would arrive on a later flight that afternoon.

It is unclear what Fedotov’s role may have been, if any, in the preparation and execution of the poisoning operation. We could also not establish if he traveled to Salisbury on any of the days he was in the UK. 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.

In the next part, set to be published next week, we will detail how we identified Denis Sergeev, despite concerted efforts by Russian authorities to purge all public records of him and the two Skripal poisoners, Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin. ... u-officer/

Wet Work in Salisbury: Sergei Skripal and the Human Factor of Russian Active Measures

Aaron EdwardsFebruary 15, 2019

Mark Urban, The Skripal Files: The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy (Henry Holt, 2018).

On Sunday, March 4, 2018, in the sleepy English city of Salisbury, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, was enjoying lunch in an Italian restaurant with his daughter Yulia. What happened next is now a familiar story. After they finished their meal, the Skripals left the restaurant to feed some ducks in a nearby park. It was at this point that they suddenly became unwell and collapsed. Soon after the Skripals were rushed to Salisbury District Hospital, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey went to their home to search for clues to explain what had happened. Twenty-four hours later, he, too, became unwell. Results from toxicology tests soon revealed that the Skripals had been poisoned by an unknown chemical, subsequently identified as the military-grade nerve agent Novichok A234.

Three weeks later, Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to members of Parliament in the House of Commons and took the unusual step of holding the Russian Federation directly responsible for the incident. “This was not only a crime against Sergei and Yulia Skripal,” she said emphatically. “It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom” and “an assault on our fundamental values and the rules based international system that upholds them.” In her government’s assessment, May said this was “part of a pattern of increasingly aggressive Russian behavior…[representing]…a new and dangerous phase in Russia’s hostile activity within our continent and beyond.” The United Kingdom acted quickly, expelling 23 Russian spies from their embassy in London, a response greatly validated following the release of findings by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which pointed in the direction of Moscow. By the end of the summer, British authorities had issued a European Arrest Warrant for two Russian nationals they suspected of carrying out the attack. It later transpired that both men were Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) officers who had apparently applied the highly toxic substance to the handle of Sergei Skripal’s front door back in March.

The diplomatic fallout has had serious repercussions not only for Russia and the United Kingdom but also for other countries — including the United States, where there is an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. The poisoning in Salisbury, therefore, does much to highlight not only by Moscow’s willingness to target individuals for assassination but also the threat posed by active measures.

Active measures were used throughout the Soviet era as a way to wrong-foot opponents in the West and elsewhere. Typically directed from the Kremlin, they included such actions as meddling in other state’s elections, the spreading of disinformation, including lies and half-truths, as well as the making of threats. Today, the Russian state is arguably using old-school intelligence tradecraft in new ways to serve the overarching objective of protecting its national interests. The targeting of Sergei Skripal could conceivably have been part of a Russian attempt to sow tension between allies and weaken Britain’s role on the world stage. As with most intelligence matters, however, the incident’s outcome was ultimately defined by the interplay between the individuals caught up in it and the reaction the relevant governments in the broader international arena.

From Russia with Blood

Asked in October 2018 how he felt about the attack on Skripal, Russian President Vladimir Putin was dismissive. “He was simply a spy,” he said. “A traitor to the motherland. There is such a concept — a traitor to the motherland. He was one of those.” Putin’s views could not have been clearer. In Soviet times, Skripal’s offense, becoming a “traitor to the motherland” (izmena rodine), was the most serious crime an individual could commit against the state. Such infringements typically carried with them a death sentence. Ever since the Stalinist secret police agent Ramón Mercader plunged an ice axe into the head of Stalin’s greatest rival, Leon Trotsky, in Mexico City, those designated “traitors to the motherland” have been systematically hunted down and murdered wherever they have sought refuge. The most infamous case in recent times, of course, has been the assassination of former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer and defector Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with Polonium 210 in 2006.

In The Skripal Files, Mark Urban, the diplomatic and defence editor of the BBC’s flagship current affairs program Newsnight, recounts Skripal’s betrayal in considerable detail. A journalist with over 25 years’ expertise of researching, writing, and commentating on intelligence and special operations matters, Urban interviewed Skripal at his home in Salisbury some months before the attempt on the former GRU colonel’s life. It is largely through this encounter that Urban was able to glean so much about his subject’s military and intelligence career.

A former paratrooper, Skripal made the transition into the Russian special forces and onwards to the GRU in the 1970s. It was during a particularly sensitive undercover mission in Madrid in the mid-1990s that Skripal was first recruited by MI6. Urban disguises the identity of Skripal’s handler — as he does with many other key players in the story — though it is clear the two men built up a close personal relationship. Code-named FORTHWITH, Skripal provided invaluable insight into the GRU’s organization, strategies, and tactics for nearly a decade. During the late 1990s, Agent FORTHWITH provided his case officer with useful nuggets of information in a series of meetings in Spain, Portugal, Malta, Italy, and Turkey.

By 2004, one of Skripal’s fellow GRU officers had been arrested and interrogated by the FSB before mysteriously dying following his committal to a psychiatric ward. Not long afterwards, a surveillance operation was also mounted against Skripal. He, too, was promptly detained, imprisoned, and interrogated by Russian authorities. While he never admitted to being a double agent, Skripal was nonetheless convicted of spying for a foreign intelligence service on Aug. 9, 2006.

Urban presents his protagonist as a tough and resourceful former Spetsnaz soldier who used his unique skillset to survive incarceration in one of Russia’s most notorious prisons: IK 5 in the remote forests of Mordovia. After five years of hard labor in this grim penal colony, Skripal was finally released and pardoned as part of a spy swap with the United States in 2010.

Urban suggests that in the years between his subject’s resettlement in exile in the United Kingdom and his attempted assassination, Skripal may have remained active in the spy business, perhaps even acting as a paid consultant to several Western spy agencies. As with Urban’s other fascinating and well-researched books, we find ourselves pulling up a pew next to his interviewees, many of whom provide invaluable off-the-record insights into the secret world of spying. Alongside Skripal’s own perspective, we hear from government officials, retired spooks, emergency services personnel, and Russian émigrés about his near death.

The Human Factor

Throughout his engrossing book, Urban takes us on an expert tour of the psychological consequences for an individual who has betrayed his country. Tough and resourceful as Skripal may have been while imprisoned in Russia, we nevertheless get a sense that during that time, he at least took solace in being amongst likeminded people. During his exile in England, we discover the contradictory forces at work in his character: an undiminished loyalty to his country, which has exiled him. We find a man in search of belonging, who liked nothing more than to venture into nondescript bars and pass the time anonymously.

Intriguingly, Skripal made few friends, the only exception being, apparently, a former British serviceman. His affinity with old soldiers hints at his search for connection with those who might better empathise with his military past. “The corrosive effects on character of the loneliness imposed by the secret life have been noted by several confessed traitors,” observed the great journalist of espionage Chapman Pincher in his influential book Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason. If this was the case with Skripal, it did not show. Even though the deaths of his wife and son during his exile left him shaken, Urban argues, it would “have been a great mistake to have underestimated his mental or indeed physical toughness.” The Skripal Files offers a genuinely rounded perspective on the human costs and consequences of betraying the Russian state as well as the deadly artistry of Russia’s active measures program.

This is not the first time Russia has carried out active measures in the United Kingdom. Southeast England, in particular, has served for over a decade as the backdrop to suspected targeted killings, known in intelligence and security circles as “wet work” (mokrie dela). In 2008, for example, Oleg Gordievsky — the KGB colonel who defected to the United Kingdom in 1985 — was poisoned at his home near Surrey’s main town, Guildford. In the final years of the Cold War, Gordievsky was the last senior “scalp” taken by British Intelligence. The one-time resident-designate (rezident) and head of the KGB bureau in London, Gordievsky was subsequently smuggled out of Moscow in one of the 20th century’s most audacious extractions of an agent-in-place. It has still not been conclusively established who poisoned him, though he later claimed that it had been a business deal gone sour.

In 2012, Russian businessman and whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy dropped dead of a heart attack while out on a jog in Weybridge in Surrey. Less than six months later, Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky was found hanged in his bathroom a few miles away, close to the world-famous Ascot Racecourse. The coroner delivered an open verdict, meaning it could not be established whether Berezovsky committed suicide or was murdered. An investigation by Buzzfeed has since suggested that Berezovksy, Perepilichnyy, and a dozen other Russian émigrés were “assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services or mafia groups, two forces that sometimes work in tandem.”

I recently asked a former agent who had infiltrated one of the 20th century’s most notorious terrorist groups what happened to assets long after their exfiltration. “Guys like me are looked after from ‘cradle to grave’ in that we will always have a contact number for emergencies,” he replied. “That said, the agency will ask for assistance should anything arise that we may be able to help with.” In his view, “good spies never stop practicing the habit of spying in the need for self-preservation.” If this is true, could Urban be right in his inference that Sergei Skripal continued to provide his expertise to those who sought it? “As far as I could establish,” intimates Urban, “Skripal’s work had involved talking to some military audiences…and to a few friendly intelligence services.” This work, Urban suggests, “might have been seen in Moscow as a sort of re-entry into the world of espionage, something that sat ill with his pardon of 2010.”

That Urban did not have the opportunity to follow this up with Skripal after his discharge from hospital leaves a question mark hanging over why the Russian state targeted him for assassination. What we can say with a fair degree of certainty is that the attack gives us a clearer picture of the continuing security challenge that Russia poses on the world stage.

The Resurgence of Active Measures

What are we to conclude from the attempted assassination of the Skripals? If the Kremlin was indeed directly responsible for the attack, it suggests a more coercive implementation of the Russian national security strategy. Publicly, the country is committed to stability on the world stage, including “creating a stable and enduring system of international relations relying on international law and based on the principles of equality, mutual respect, non-interference in states’ internal affairs.” However, nowhere has it been transparent about how exactly it seeks to achieve these objectives. Assuming Russia’s grand strategy seeks to use both military and non-military means at its disposal, then active measures simply offer the Kremlin a robust way to safeguard its national interests.

Moreover, Putin’s leadership style remains intertwined in this strategic process. The careful observer of Russian foreign policy Dmitri Trenin has pointed to Putin’s “total exclusion of any outside influence on Russian domestic politics or policies,” and his attempts at consolidating a “reinvigorated national idea.” In pursing this grand strategic ambition, the Kremlin must have the freedom of action to “protect and promote Russia’s national interests globally and regionally,” Trenin argues.

In this worldview, Russia expert Mark Galeotti says, the formal institutions of the state “have become nothing more than executive agencies where policies are announced and applied, not discussed and decided.” The person with the absolute authority to make such decisions is, of course, Putin. With such a highly personalized political system in place, it is little wonder that the popular media representation of the Russian president as the most senior Chekist (a veteran of the state’s security services) has burned brighter during his long spell in the Kremlin. The question, which Urban grapples with throughout his book, is just how far we can realistically lay the blame for the Salisbury nerve agent attack at Putin’s door. That question, like so many others provoked by reading The Skripal Files, may well remain unanswered for the foreseeable future. What we can certainly see in Urban’s book is just how far active measures rely on the human factor. For as long as states need to gain secrets from the minds of people, this will continue to be their greatest strength and greatest weakness.

Aaron Edwards is a senior lecturer in defence and international affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the author of several books, including Strategy in War and Peace and Mad Mitch’s Tribal Law: Aden and the End of Empire. He is currently writing a new book on British intelligence and the Northern Ireland Troubles. Follow him on Twitter: @DrAaronEdwards.

Image: Peter Curbishley ... -measures/

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Does Sergei Skripal poisoning have link to Bulgaria attack?

In April 2015, the Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev narrowly survived a case of poisoning. The attempt on his life could be linked to the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal last year in Britain.

Emilian Gebrev (BGNES)
News outlets are looking into a possible link between the April 2015 poisoning of the Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev and last year's attempted murder of the former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. In autumn, both the Russian news outlet Fontankaand Britain's Bellingcat website identified several possible suspects in the poisoning of the Skripals. They focused on a suspected Russian secret agent who, they report, entered Britain three days before the attack on Skripal using the name Sergey Fedotov.

On Monday, Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, confirmed that Fedotov made three trips to Bulgaria in 2015. He was certainly in the capital, Sofia, when Gebrev was poisoned, Tsatsarov said.

"We are establishing all moments while he was on Bulgarian territory: the hotels, the vehicles he used, contacts with Bulgarian citizens," Tsatsarov said.

Fedotov's travel patterns in Britain and Bulgaria were similar, and the poison used in the two cases was very similar, according to Bellingcat, which specializes in open-source investigations.

Tsatsarov's office reopened the investigation into the Gebrev case in October on the basis of the new information. Britain and Bulgaria this week pledged close cooperation on the matter following a meeting between Tsatsarov, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Britain's ambassador to Sofia, Emma Hopkins.

'The same compound'

During the Cold War, Gebrev worked for Bulgaria's state-owned arms company, Kintex. At the time, the relatively small Balkan country, which mainly manufactured Kalashnikov rifles and distributed Soviet weapon systems, was one of the world's top arms exporters. In 1992, after the fall of communism, Gebrev founded the Emko arms company. He was highly successful — in 2017, Emko recorded a turnover of €100 million. Bulgaria is still the largest arms exporter in Eastern Europe with an annual volume of over €1 billion in 2018. Bulgarian weapons, and that includes Emko products, have mainly been sold to Ukraine and the Middle East, including Syria. Bulgarian media speculate that may have angered Moscow.

On April 28, 2015, Gebrev collapsed at a reception and was rushed to a hospital along with his son and an employee. They were diagnosed with poisoning by a pesticide in rocket salad or coffee. Gebrev recovered, as did his son and the employee. The arms manufacturer sent blood samples to two laboratories in Switzerland and Finland. Traces of two organophosphates were discovered in Helsinki, but one of the two substances could not be identified. However, the Fontanka and Bellingcat digital research teams say the unidentified substance was novichok: the poison used in the Skripal attack.

Boyko Noev, a former Bulgarian defense minister, thinks that is possible.

"The chemical substance with which they are poisoned is based on an organophosphorus compound, which is the same compound as the novichok group," he said in a television interview on Tuesday.

Noev is convinced that the Kremlin poisoned Gebrev in order to get its hands on the Bulgarian arms industry and to destabilize the country, which is a NATO member. He is not the only one to harbor such suspicions. Russia still has a strong hold on Bulgaria — more than one out of two Bulgarians take a favorable view of Russia, opinion polls say. Observers regularly warn that the Russian government would like to have Bulgaria be its Trojan horse in the EU and Nato. Bulgarian governments throughout have been cautious where Moscow is concerned. Bulgaria was one of 14 EU member states that did not expel Russian diplomats from the country after the Skripal attack, and, Noev said, the government is trying to sweep the Gebrev poisoning under the rug.

Details on the poisoning are expected at a hearing in the Bulgarian parliament on February 14. ... a-47487025
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