An image of an identification document of Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, the second man linked to the poison attack on the Skripals in the UK. Picture: BELLINGCAT
An image of an identification document of Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, the second man linked to the poison attack on the Skripals in the UK. Picture: BELLINGCAT

The Kremlin refused on Wednesday to verify a claim that President Vladimir Putin decorated the second suspect in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal as a hero.

Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists the Kremlin would not check out a report by British investigative group Bellingcat that the suspect it identifies as military doctor Alexander Mishkin was made a Hero of Russia, one of the country’s highest awards.

"This topic, if you remember, we don’t discuss," Peskov said, saying this was "in order not to get drawn into debates with various organisations and media".

Pressed by a BBC journalist on whether the Kremlin would check the claim, Peskov said: "No, no, I won’t do that. We have no official requests from the British side on this matter.

"Here we have taken up a certain position, we will stick to it," he said.

Bellingcat has published what it says are the real identities of both of the suspects in the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury in March. It identified the men as serving in Russian military intelligence and gave their real names as Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga.

The two appeared for an interview on Russian state television after Putin insisted they had not done anything criminal.

They gave the names on passports used for the trip — Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — and said that they were sports supplement salesmen who were sightseeing
in Salisbury.

Peskov has repeatedly refused to talk about Bellingcat’s identification of the suspects. "Since the whole discussion is being held at the level of media, we, as the Kremlin, don’t want to take part in the discussion," Peskov said last week.

"We won’t hold a conversation anymore with media."

Peskov had denied Bellingcat’s earlier claim that the other suspect, whom it named as Chepiga, was also a decorated Hero of Russia, after telling journalists he would check lists. "Yes, we checked. I don’t have information that someone of that name was decorated," Peskov said in September.

AFP

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