Novichok attack: Third suspect linked to Skripal poisoning


Bulgaria will investigate reports of a third suspect in last year’s nerve agent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England, an official says.

Tsvetan Tsvetanov of the ruling GERB party has told the bTV channel that Bulgaria’s intelligence services will present evidence on the topic at a hearing on Thursday before the parliamentary committee on homeland security.

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media_cameraSergei and Yulia Skripal are in hiding after they were allegedly the target of Russian agents. Picture: Facebook

The suspect was also allegedly involved in a 2015 poisoning in Bulgaria. The scheduled hearing follows a report by the investigative group Bellingcat, which says an alleged Russian GRU military intelligence agent arrived in Bulgaria in April 2015, just a few days before Bulgarian businessman Emilian Gebrev was poisoned by an unidentified substance.

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media_cameraDawn Sturgess (L) died after being exposed to the nerve agent. Her partner Charlie Rowley survived. Picture: AFP

Mr Gebrev, a key executive in the country’s arms industry, survived the attack, but authorities still don’t know who poisoned him.

Bellingcat said on its website that a 45-year-old agent who travelled under the alias Sergei Vyacheslavovich Fedotov had been “conclusively identified as an agent of Russian military intelligence”, or GRU.

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media_cameraSergei Skripal attends a hearing at the Moscow District Military Court in 2006. Picture: AFP
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media_cameraSergei Skripal was a colonel in Russian military intelligence. Picture: Supplied

Bellingcat said Mr Fedotov is also suspected of being involved in the Novichok nerve-agent poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury in March 2018, having arrived in Britain two days before the attack.

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media_cameraAlexander Petrov (R) and Ruslan Boshirov are wanted by British police in connection with the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Picture: AFP

Both Skripals survived but spent weeks in the hospital and are now in hiding. British officials have blamed the attack on the GRU, and charged two Russian suspects, who travelled under the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. The men, and Russian authorities, deny involvement in the poisoning, and Moscow refuses to extradite them to Britain.

The Skripal poisonings set off a wave of recriminations between Britain and Moscow, prompting dozens of envoys to be expelled.

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media_cameraLast week, an army specialist removed bricks and rubble from the home of former Russian Spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England. Picture: AP

Mr Tsvetanov, a former Bulgarian interior minister, said that the new probe was being co-ordinated with foreign partners.

“I am certain that the necessary co-ordination has already been set up between the Bulgarian, British and European authorities on the case and they are working actively on it,” he told reporters.

Britain’s Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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media_cameraEmergency services at the scene of a Novichok attack in the English town of Salisbury. Picture: AFP

Originally published as Novichok suspect carried out other attacks



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