Bellingcat, along with its partners The Insider (Russia) and Respekt (Czechia), has revealed the true identity and background of another GRU officer who might have has a hand in poisoning former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yuliya in March, 2018.
According to the investigative journalists, the real name of the person who operated internationally under the cover persona of Sergey Vyacheslavovich Fedotov, is Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev, a high-ranking GRU officer and a graduate of Russia’s Military Diplomatic Academy.
A week ago, Bellingcat published a version of his allegedly being involved in poisoning Emilian Gebrev, one of Bulgaria’s leading entrepreneurs in the defense manufacturing and export industry.
Earlier, Telegraph reported that a third suspect did not leave the United Kingdom immediately after March’s attack. According to the newspaper, Fedotov helped ‘Alexander Petrov’ and ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ whom London holds responsible for poisoning the Skripals.
The investigative team has not defined his role in the attempted assassination yet, Bellingcat stresses.
Denis Sergeev was born in Usharal, a small militarized town in what was at the time Soviet Kazakhstan. Both Denis Sergeev and his cover identity “Sergey Fedotov” were born on 17 September 1973. He served in the army in the southern Russian city of Novorossiisk in the Krasnodar Region.
At some point between 2000 and 2002, he was transferred to Moscow and enrolled at the elite Military Diplomatic Academy, popularly known in Russia as the “GRU Conservatory”.
In 2004-2012, Denis Sergeev, under his real identity, served as shareholder and/or managing director of eight Russian companies. These companies, all of which were liquidated between 2007 and 2012, were sham corporations with names mimicking names of other large companies registered in Russia. It is plausible that these companies may have been used for money laundering purposes, or as cover corporations providing “respectable employment” to other GRU undercover officers, for instance in the context of visa applications.
In the last two months, Russian authorities have taken the unusual measure of erasing any public records of the existence of Denis Sergeev, as well as of Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, the main two suspects, Bellingcat reports.
On March 4, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yuliya were found unconscious at a shopping mall in the English town of Salisbury. The two were taken to hospital in critical condition. The were reportedly poisoned following exposure to an unknown substance. A bit later, British Prime Minister Theresa May said they had been poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. The incident caused a number of rows and triggered a diplomatic war between the West and the Kremlin.
In early September, British prosecutors said the names of two Russian citizens suspected of poisoning the Skripals were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.
In September, The Insider and OSINT group Bellingcat published he results of its journalistic investigation regarding Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov whom the British authorities suspect of poisoning the former Russian agent and his daughter. According to the journalists, the real name of ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ is Anatoly Chepiga, a GRU Colonel and Hero of Russia, while ‘Alexander Petrov’ is GRU officer Alexander Mishkin in real life.
‘Petrov’ and ‘Boshirov’ denied their having any relation to the Russian special services in the interview with the Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today. They claimed they visited Salisbury to see the sights, including the local medieval cathedral. Their clumsy statements and ridiculous explanations triggered a wave of jokes on the Internet.