Russian scientist named Alexander Petrov denies being the novichok attack GRU hitman
‘It’s a complete coincidence’: Russian scientist named Alexander Petrov who works at a mysterious smallpox vaccine plant denies being the novichok attack GRU hitman
- UK named Alexander Petrov as being one of two men behind novichok attack
- Scientist with same name in Russia has denied being involved in the incident
- He works at a secretive plant that produces smallpox vaccine in Tomsk, Siberia
A Russian scientist called Alexander Petrov who works at a secretive plant that produces smallpox vaccine has denied he is a GRU spy who was sent to Britain to assassinate Sergei Skripal.
The 39-year-old, employed at mysterious Siberian ‘scientific’ company Virion in Tomsk, 2,235 miles from Moscow, insisted he had ‘nothing to do with the Skripal story’.
He made the denial after being highlighted by a Russian news agency as appearing to match one of two men identified by British antiterrorist police as being sent to Salisbury on a mission to kill Skripal, a former Moscow military spy double agent who was secretly working for MI6.
Britain says two men – named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – unleashed the novichok attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March – but believes both names are aliases used by GRU military spies.
A Russian scientist called Alexander Petrov (pictured) who works at a secretive plant that produces smallpox vaccine has denied he is a GRU spy who was sent to Britain to assassinate Sergei Skripal
The 39-year-old is employed at mysterious Siberian ‘scientific’ company Virion – linked to scientific and manufacturing giant Mikrogen (pictured) – in Tomsk, 2,235 miles from Moscow. He insisted he had ‘nothing to do with the Skripal story’
Britain says two men named Alexander Petrov (left) and Ruslan Boshirov (right) unleashed the novichok attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March – but believes both names are aliases used by GRU military spies
‘This is a complete coincidence,’ said Petrov in Tomsk, after being approached by a Russian news agency.
‘Let alone London, I can’t even manage to get to the Altai Mountains (in southern Siberia).’
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He works as a ‘section foreman’ for the Tomsk manufacturer Virion, linked to scientific and manufacturing giant Mikrogen, which has close ties to the Russian government.
Virion develops and produces ‘immunobiological medicinal products’. It is the sole manufacturer of smallpox vaccine in Russia.
Russia is one of only two countries in the world – the other is the US – which holds officially sanctioned stocks of smallpox virus. The Russian stocks are held at Novosibirsk, near Tomsk.
The two spies were pictured in Salisbury the day before the attack, when they carried out a reconnaissance trip
Virion also produces a whole spectrum of vaccines for tick-borne infections.
Petrov, born on July 13, 1979, appears to be a different man to a namesake living in Moscow whose grandparents worked for Stalin’s notorious SMERCH killing machine which vowed ‘death to spies’.
The Moscow Petrov who also fell under suspicion after the names were revealed by Scotland Yard has gone to ground and was not seen at a block of flats to which he is registered.
The other man named by Britain, Ruslan Boshirov, has also vanished.
Britain in any case suspects that the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are aliases used by GRU military spies sent to Salisbury to unleash a novichok attack on Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 34, who was visiting him at the time.
Skripal had been swapped for flame-haired agent Anna Chapman as part of an east-west spy exchange in 2010.
However, there has been speculation his former service, the GRU, was used in an assassination bid in revenge for his ‘treason’ in working for Britain.
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