The British-based open-source investigation group Bellingcat says that it has established the identity of an alleged Russian military intelligence officer who was in England when former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok.
"Bellingcat can now reveal the true identity and background of this GRU officer, who operated internationally under the cover persona of Sergei Vyacheslavovich Fedotov," Bellingcat said on February 14.
"In fact, this person is Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeyev, a high-ranking GRU officer and a graduate of Russia’s Military Diplomatic Academy."
Bellingcat first published a report on February 7 saying that a suspected Russian military intelligence agent, who traveled under the alias Sergei Vyacheslavovich Fedotov arrived in Bulgaria just days before businessman Emilian Gebrev fell into a coma in April 2015 with symptoms of severe poisoning.
Bellingcat said Fedotov is also suspected of being involved in the British attack, having arrived in Britain two days before the Skripals were poisoned.
Gebrev, a veteran of the Bulgarian arms industry, survived the poisoning, as did his son and a company executive who were treated with similar symptoms.
Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, also survived after weeks in critical condition, but Dawn Sturgess, a woman who authorities said came in contact with the poison after her boyfriend found a fake perfume bottle containing it, died in July 2018.
British authorities have charged two Russian men identified by Bellingcat as agents of Russia's GRU intelligence services with carrying out the poisoning. However, they have not identified a third suspect, and Bellingcat acknowledged: "It is unclear what [Sergeyev's[ role may have been, if any, in the preparation and execution of the poisoning operation."
Moscow has denied it had any involvement in the Skripal poisoning by the highly toxic nerve-agent Novichok, which led to a series of sanctions against Russia by the West and tit-for-tat diplomatic actions.