Skripal suspects’ passport data had ‘top secret’ markings
RUSSIA’S claims that the prime suspects in the Salisbury poisoning case are “civilians” were further undermined last night when it emerged that their passport data contained “top secret” markings.
An analysis of the original files on Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov found an unusual stamp containing the instruction “Do not provide any information” and a hand-written note stating: “There is a letter. S.S.”
SS is a common abbreviation for “sovershenno sekretno” – Russian for “top secret”.
The data, obtained and analysed by Bellingcat, a Uk-based investigative website, reportedly reveals that the two internal passports were issued in 2009 but that unusually, no records exist for either of them before that date.
This suggests the two names were “likely cover identities for operatives of one of the Russian security services”, the website said.
A note in Petrov’s file is said to make reference to a pre-existing national passport issued in St. Petersburg in 1999, which does not appear to exist in the central passport database.
The file also contains no reference to the passport Petrov used to travel to the UK, contrary to normal practice.
Meanwhile, the Russian journalist who interviewed the two men hung up on Kirsty Wark, the BBC Newsnight presenter, when she suggested her Kremlin-funded network was a “propaganda tool” for the state.
Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief, of RT, interviewed Petrov and Boshirov when the men insisted that they made a weekend visit to Britain to see Salisbury cathedral and were victims of a “fantastical coincidence”.
When Simonyan was asked by Wark if she was concerned that the interview reinforced the idea that RT was a propagandist station, she gave a spiky response.
“You did watch the interview, didn’t you? … Your question seems like typical Western propaganda because of which people actually watch RT. It’s nothing like you’re saying it was. Thank you very much.”
Wark was in the process of trying to ask another question when her guest hung up.