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Kremlin doubts credibility of reports about third ‘suspect’ in Salisbury saga

Media reported that "a Russian military intelligence officer travelled to the UK on the same day as two hitmen who carried out the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal"

MOSCOW, February 8. /TASS/. Media reports about a third participant in the Salisbury incident cause doubt, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, commenting on reports by Bellingcat and The Insider, which claim that the third individual allegedly involved in the Skripal poisoning could have had a hand in a poisoning attempt in Bulgaria in 2015.

"We have seen reports on the matter. The only question is how the use of a chemical warfare agent in Europe could have gone unnoticed in 2015, why it only became known now?" Peskov said.

"We don’t know how true the reports are, if they are true at all, and we also don’t know what they are based on and how competent those who made them public are, or who they are," the Kremlin spokesman noted.

New media reports

On February 6, The Daily Telegraph reported, citing a source, that "a Russian military intelligence officer - using the false name Sergey Fedotov - travelled to the UK on the same day as two hitmen who carried out the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal."

According to the newspaper, "Fedotov was then booked on to the same flight back to Moscow with" the two others but he "checked himself and his baggage off the plane before departure." "He could still have been running around Britain," the paper quoted the source as saying.

On February 7, Bellingcat and the Insider said, citing their sources, that Fedotov could have been involved in a poisoning attempt in Bulgaria in 2015.

Skripal saga

According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia, suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4, 2018. 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 a substance.

On September 5, 2018, British Prime Minister Theresa May informed the country’s parliament about the conclusions that investigators looking into the Salisbury incident had come to, saying that two Russians, believed to be GRU agents, were suspected of conspiracy to murder the Skripals. The Metropolitan Police said their names were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

In an interview with Russia’s RT TV channel, Petrov and Boshirov said they had visited Great Britain for tourist purposes. According to them, they are businessmen with no links to the GRU and have nothing to do with the Skripal case.