Se­cret pa­pers re­veal Novi­chok duo’s link to Rus­sian mil­i­tary

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Mark Ni­col

A PASS­PORT used by one of the Krem­lin as­sas­sins who at­tempted to poi­son Sergei Skri­pal in Sal­is­bury di­rectly links him to the Rus­sian se­cu­rity ser­vices.

Travel doc­u­ments used by a Rus­sian agent us­ing the iden­tity of Alexan­der Petrov are marked as ‘top se­cret’ and in­clude a phone num­ber for the Rus­sian de­fence min­istry.

The find­ing by the re­spected in­ves­tiga­tive web­site Belling­cat di­rectly con­tra­dicts Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s claims that Petrov and his ac­com­plice Ruslan Boshirov were merely civil­ians who trav­elled to Sal­is­bury to see its cathe­dral and nearby Stone­henge.

When the num­ber was rung by jour­nal­ists yes­ter­day an of­fice clerk re­fused to give any in­for­ma­tion about Petrov’s pass­ports or com­ment on his ap­par­ent links to the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment. It has also emerged that Petrov and Boshirov’s pass­ports, which were is­sued in 2009, pro­vide al­most no bi­o­graph­i­cal data about ei­ther man be­fore that year, such as any res­i­den­tial ad­dresses. There are also no records of ei­ther Petrov or Boshirov hav­ing a pass­port be­fore 2009.

This has con­vinced se­cu­rity ex­perts that Petrov and Boshirov were merely cover iden­ti­ties cre­ated by Rus­sia’s GRU mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence ser­vice for use on for­eign op­er­a­tions.

Scot­land Yard also says that these are the aliases of the hit­men who trav­elled to Bri­tain on March 2 this year for their as­sas­si­na­tion mis­sion.

Se­cu­rity sources have told The Mail on Sun­day that Scot­land Yard and MI6 are sit­ting on a huge amount of fur­ther ev­i­dence link­ing Petrov and Boshirov to the at­tempt to kill Sergei Skri­pal us­ing Novi­chok nerve agent.

They say this ev­i­dence will only be pro­duced if the two Rus­sian agents are brought to trial.

Petrov and Boshirov have been charged with con­spir­acy to mur­der Sergei and Yu­lia Skri­pal and De­tec­tive Sergeant Nick Bai­ley.

For­mer Rus­sian spy Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter were found col­lapsed on March 4; the po­lice of­fi­cer fell ill af­ter try­ing to help them.

Rus­sian in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter Sergei Kanev, who worked with Belling­cat, said that ‘nor­mal peo­ple’ did not get their pass­ports at the Rus­sian de­fence min­istry, ‘only peo­ple who of­ten work un­der­cover, in­clud­ing the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices’.

Last night a Rus­sian gov­ern­ment spokes­woman re­jected the claims and sug­gested that the web­site must have links to Western in­tel­li­gence agen­cies be­cause its in­for­ma­tion about Petrov and Boshirov’s pass­ports had come from a data­base which was not pub­licly avail­able.

In an in­ter­view with the Krem­lin-backed TV sta­tion Rus­sia To­day last week, Petrov and Boshirov claimed these were their real names and that they had planned their two-day ex­cur­sion to Sal­is­bury long in ad­vance.

But now it has emerged that the pair ac­tu­ally booked their tick­ets on the Rus­sian air­line Aeroflot on March 1, the night be­fore their short trip to Lon­don and Sal­is­bury.

The Mail on Sun­day also un­der­stands they used cash rather than credit or debit cards while in the UK, in­clud­ing when they paid for re­turn rail tick­ets from Lon­don to Sal­is­bury on March 2 and March 3.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has branded Petrov and Boshirov’s cover sto­ries as ‘lies and bla­tant fab­ri­ca­tion’.

LIES: Sus­pects Boshirov, left, and Petrov in their TV in­ter­view last week

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