British officials have accused a senior Russian intelligence agent of involvement in the 2018 Salisbury poisoning, as details of other attacks emerged around the world.
Denis Sergeev, who traveled to the UK under the alias Sergei Fedotov, is believed to have commanded two GRU agents carrying out the poisonings from London.
His target was Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent who moved to Britain in a “spy swap” in 2010, and was living a quiet life in Salisbury.
Novichok was impounded at his front door on 4 March 2018, poisoning Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who fell seriously ill but survived.
Months later, in June 2018, a local man found a fake perfume bottle containing a chemical weapon and gave it to his partner as a gift.
Charlie Rowley survived by consuming the poison but died after applying it to the skin of her partner, 44-year-old mother Don Sturgess.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has authorized the same charges against Sergeev as the two previous suspects, including attempted murder of Mr. Skripal and his daughter Yulia, grievous bodily harm of police officer Nick Bailey and use of Novichok as a chemical weapon. is included. .
Dean Hayden, senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said Sergeev “worked as a team” with Alexander Petrov, aka Alexander Mishkin, and Ruslan Boshirov, aka Anatoly Chepiga.
He said the trio had also acted “as a threesome” on attacks in other countries, including Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
The Russian government has denied any involvement in the 2018 attack. At a news conference on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Britain of “deliberately deteriorating relations” and using poison to “increase anti-Russian sentiment in British society”.
“We condemn attempts to blame Russia,” she said. “We are trying to find out the truth and seek detailed information from the UK, and to meet our obligations to provide consular access to our citizens. [Sergei and Yulia Skripal]”
Who is Denis Sergeev?
British police say Sergeev is an agent in the Russian GRU military intelligence service, aged about 50.
Further details about his life and career have been previously revealed by investigative website BellingCat, but have not been confirmed by the authorities.
Bellingcat reported that at the time of the attack Sergeev held the rank of Major-General, senior to two other GRU agents previously named as suspects.
Telephone records obtained from a whistleblower of a Russian mobile operator show that Sergeev lived in Moscow and worked in GRU buildings, including its headquarters and academy.
He was born in Ushral, a small town in what was then Soviet Kazakhstan, on 17 September 1973 according to records obtained by Bellingcat.
Sergeev reportedly served in the military before relocating to Moscow and enrolling in the elite Military Diplomatic Academy or “GRU Conservatory”.
The first use of his surname Sergei Fedotov is dated to 2010, when a passport with the same name was issued by the same office that issued cover documents to other agents involved in the Salisbury attack.
What was his role in the attack?
Sergeev flew to Heathrow Airport from Moscow on 2 March 2018, arriving about four hours ahead of his colleagues, and stayed at a hotel in Paddington for two nights.
British counter-terrorism police said Sergeev met with two agents who had been to Salisbury “on more than one occasion” over the weekend of the attack, but found no trace of Novichok in his hotel.
He remained in London for the duration of his three-day visit, and investigators did not provide further details about his activities.
bellingcat It was previously reported that phone records show that Sergeev remained in addition to the Paddington area on 3 March 2018, when his phone was registered near Oxford Circus and Embankment.
He was in the embankment area between noon and 1.30 a.m. – the same period when Mishkin and Chepiga were about to catch a train to Salisbury for a reconnaissance trip from nearby Waterloo Station.
The Metropolitan Police said the couple reached the area at 11.45 a.m. but their train didn’t leave until 12.50 p.m. Only a 10-minute walk between Waterloo and the embankment, all three agents could meet at that time.
“If a meeting in person was necessary between Sergeev and the Chepiga/Mishkin team—whether to pass final instructions or a physical object—the area between the embankment and Waterloo would have been a convenient location, and there would have been a time gap of one hour between them. Arrival at the station and their departure will likely be substantial, ”said Bellingcat.
The website reported that while in London, Sergeev was also exchanging messages on encrypted apps including Telegram, Viber and WhatsApp.
He was downloading large files – all using mobile networks instead of WiFi – and talking on the phone to someone codenamed “Amir from Moscow”.
Bellingcat concluded that because of his position and experience, Sergeev was more “in charge of coordinating the Salisbury operation”.
The researchers said that available evidence indicates that “he was involved in the Skripal operation in a supervising, coordinating role; communicating back and forth to Moscow while leaving the suspected hit-team to serve in an operational ‘Faraday Cage’.” .
Less than two hours after Sergei Skripal had a nerve agent applied to his door, Sergeev flew from Heathrow to Moscow on March 4 at 1.45 pm.
The police investigation is still ongoing, and police are investigating other suspects who may have been part of the venomous action.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /