News Brief

Bellingcat Reveals Movements of Third Russian Skripal Poison Suspect

A third Russian military intelligence officer linked to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom last year could be linked to the poisoning of a prominent Bulgarian businessman in 2015, according to the investigative new sites Bellingcat and The Insider.

The two investigative teams say they have uncovered and analyzed the travels of this third potential Skripal suspect, a 45-year-old man known under an alias Sergei Fedotov, who they believe worked for Russian military intelligence along with Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, the two Salisbury suspects already identified.

Fedotov, who was initially named by a Russian news outlet Fontanka as a Russian military intelligence officer— started using his alias in 2010 and spent years traveling to multiple countries under this name. In at least one case, he appeared in destinations where unusual circumstances occurred, according to Bellingcat and The Insider.

On April 24, 2015, Fedotov arrived in Burgas, Bulgaria, and according to his ticket, he was supposed to return to Moscow from the capital Sofia on April 30, according to a report published last week by the two sites. Instead, Fedotov bought a last-minute ticket in Istanbul on April 28 and flew back to Russia from there.

That same day, a Bulgarian businessman Emilian Gebrev fell sick at a reception in Sofia. He, his son and another executive from his company were all hospitalized with symptoms of poison. Gebrev went into a coma soon afterward.

Fedetov’s travel itinerary in March 2018, around the time the Skripals were poisoned, also has aroused curiosity, according to the news sites. He flew from Moscow to London the same day as Chepiga and Mishkin did. He didn’t use his original return ticket booked for March 4 – the day Sergei and Yulia Skripal got sick. Instead he returned to Moscow several days later from another country.

The Telegraph newspaper published details of the third Skripal suspect last week, prompting  the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in her daily briefing Feb. 7 to denounce the reporting as anti-Russian speculation.

Zakharova’s statement goes along the lines of Russian embassy’s comments that the Kremlin-aligned RT cited the same day. The embassy criticized the UK for moving slowly in the Skripal investigation and scoffed at their professionalism.