[Editor’s note: The moment I heard the Bellingcat/Salisbury story on the news I said that this was an example of the intelligence agencies (in this case, the British SIS) using a front to disseminate a false narrative – the information coming from Bellingcat was obviously being fed to them by the spooks. The Russian ambassador agrees with me, so naturally, I think he is correct. Ian]
Bellingcat, a UK-based open source and social media investigation site, has conducted no investigation of its own into the Salisbury incident, instead it released data leaked by intelligence services ahead of the British delegation’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Rossiya-1 television channel.
“Bellingcat conducted no probe into the Salisbury incident. Belligcat had been silent for six months, saying nothing about what had happened there. They simply released information they had been given ahead of the British delegation’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly,” she said.
According to the Russian diplomat, what Bellingcat presented as its own findings in fact were materials provided by Western intelligence services. “But there is no investigation either into the Salisbury or Amesbury incidents. It is nothing but the use of pseudo-mass media as a tool to circulate such fakes,” she said.
If the British version of the affair is to be believed former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of a nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever had any program aimed at developing such an agent.
On September 5, British Prime Minister Theresa May briefed parliament on the investigation’s findings to declare that two Russians carrying passports issued in the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were suspected accomplices in the assassination attempt. Britain regards both men as GRU agents. Petrov and Boshirov in an interview to the RT television channel dismissed the charges.
In late September, The Daily Telegraph claimed it knew the real name of the person suspected of the assassination attempt against the Skripals. The newspaper said that the man originally identified as Ruslan Boshirov was in reality Russian Colonel Anatoly Chepiga, a holder of several government awards. Later on, a Bellingcat representative told the British parliament that the real name of the man identified as Petrov was Alexander Mishkin.
Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said following this publication that he had “no information that a man by this name has ever received any award.” Following Bellingact’s revelations about ‘Mishkin,’ Peskov said that the Kremlin would refrain from debates about medial allegations about Russian ‘GRU agents.’.