(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 05, 2018 An handout picture taken at Gatwick Airport, south of London on March 2, 2018, and released by the British Metropolitan Police Service in London on September 5, 2018, shows Alexander Petrov, who is wanted by British police in connection with the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. – Investigative group Bellingcat on October 9, 2018 identified the second suspect in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal as a doctor employed by Moscow’s GRU military intelligence service. “We have now identified ‘Alexander Petrov’ to be in fact Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU,” the British-based group said in a report published on its website. Bellingcat worked with the Russian investigative team at The Insider to name the first of the two Skripal suspects ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ as GRU agent Anatoly Chepiga last month. The Kremlin has rejected past charges about its involvement in the case as fabrications aimed at discrediting Russia. (Photo by HO / METROPOLITAN POLICE / AFP)
The two suspects in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain travelled to the Czech Republic in 2014 at a time when he was also there, Czech public radio reported Wednesday.
“It looks as though the Russians set up a task force and followed Skripal long before the attempted murder,” said an unnamed intelligence source, cited by Radiozurnal radio.
The report comes after investigative group Bellingcat revealed the suspects’ true identities as Alexander Mishkin, a military doctor employed by Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and GRU colonel Anatoly Chepiga.
British authorities accuse the two men of attempting to murder Skripal and his daughter Yulia — who both survived — with the Soviet-made nerve agent Novichok in the city of Salisbury in southwest England in March.
Moscow has denied the accusations.
Mishkin stayed at a hotel in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava under the alias “Alexander Petrov” from October 13 to 16, 2014 before leaving for Prague, according to the Radiozurnal report.
It added that Chepiga arrived in the Czech capital on October 11 that same year using the alias Ruslan Boshirov.
“Unfortunately we don’t know when they left the Czech Republic,” Radiozurnal journalist Janek Kroupa told AFP.
The report said Skripal spent time in the Czech Republic in the second half of October 2014 to help local officers detect alleged Russian spies in the country.
The BIS Czech intelligence agency, Czech police and the Russian embassy in Prague all declined to comment when contacted by Radiozurnal.