Bellingcat Releases Report On Alleged Movements, Passport Data Of ‘GRU Operatives’ Petrov, Boshirov

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On September 20 and September 14, Bellingcat and The Insider released two joint reports providing some details of alleged movements and passport data of “GRU operatives” Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. The September 14 report was entitled “Skripal Poisoning Suspect’s Passport Data Shows Link to Security Services“, the September 20 – “Skripal Suspects Confirmed as GRU Operatives: Prior European Operations Disclosed“.

The both reports are based on “uncovered passport data” including “original records from the central Russian passport and residential registration database” and “confidential Russian sources familiar with the identity of at least one of the two persons”.  Bellingcat and The Insider alleged the following:

Point #1 (source):

“Alexander Petrov’s passport dossier is marked with a stamp containing the instruction “Do not provide any information”.  This stamp does not exist in standard civilian passport files. A source working in the Russian police force who regularly works with the central database confirmed to Bellingcat and The Insider that they have never seen such a stamp on any passport form in their career.  That source surmised that this marking reserved for operatives of the state under deep cover.

Adding additional credence to the hypothesis that Alexander Petrov’s persona is a cover identity comes from another page in his passport file, which is reserved for input of biographical data. In Mr. Petrov’s case, this page is left blank, and in addition to the same stamp “Do not provide information”, a hand-written note is added with the text “There is a letter. S.S.”. Per the same source interviewed for this story, S.S. is a common abbreviation for “sovershenno sekretno”, Russian for “top secret”.

Another clue pointing to the non-civilian status of Mr. Petrov is the absence from his passport file of any information about his international passport, which he used to travel to the United Kingdom. The passport number is listed in the Aeroflot passenger manifest reviewed by Bellingcat. However, the passport file shows no international passport belonging to Alexander Petrov, in contrast with regular practice – under which the file contains a list of all government-issued ID documents, both national and international passports, expired and currently valid.”

Bellingcat Releases Report On Alleged Movements, Passport Data Of 'GRU Operatives' Petrov, Boshirov

Click to see the full-size image. Image: bellingcat.com

Bellingcat Releases Report On Alleged Movements, Passport Data Of 'GRU Operatives' Petrov, Boshirov

Click to see the full-size image. Image: bellingcat.com

Point #2 (source):

Bellingcat and the Insider have obtained documents proving that the number on the suspects’ stamps indeed is identical to a telephone number that belongs to the Ministry of Defense, and is located at Khoroshevskoe Chausse – where the Headquarters of the GRU is based.

In a centralized database called “Unified State Telephone Directory of the Moscow Region”, dated 2012, the telephone number from the dossier stamps – 1957966, preceded by the Moscow prefix 495 – is found to belong to a telephone exchange with “zone of operation: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation”

Additionally,  many listed telephone numbers in the Moscow telephone database that start with 1957*** have addresses located at Khoroshevskoe Chausse, such as the Ministry of Defense-owned magazine “Foreign Military Review”. The only military unit at or near Khoroshevskoe Chausse is the headquarters of the GRU.

Bellingcat Releases Report On Alleged Movements, Passport Data Of 'GRU Operatives' Petrov, Boshirov

Click to see the full-size image. Image: bellingcat.com

Bellingcat Releases Report On Alleged Movements, Passport Data Of 'GRU Operatives' Petrov, Boshirov

Click to see the full-size image. Image: bellingcat.com

Point #3 (source):

However, it’s two other numbers that provide the most corroborative link between the two Skripal suspects and the GRU.  It’s their international passport numbers.

As discussed in the previous installment, the two suspects’ international-travel passports were not recorded in their passport files – which is atypical for the Russian passport dossier system. This suggests the passports were issued by a special agency that does not report to the centralized registrar of government-issued ID’s, commonly known in Russia as the “FMS database”.  Such a “disconnect” would be logical if this agency issues covert international passports under cover identities.

A “special issuing agency” would explain also the proximity of the passport numbers between the two suspects – only 3 intervening digits (as one would assume that Russian, internationally active secret-service agents are a finite, relatively small number).

Bellingcat and the Insider have previously investigated and reported on a different GRU officer who also traveled under a cover persona and passport. This was the case of Col. Eduard Shishmakov, a former Russian Military Attaché in Warsaw expelled by Poland in 2014 for espionage. Col. Shishmakov, using an undercover (albeit not very creative) persona and passport in the name of Eduard Shirokov, travelled to Serbia in October 2016 to supervise – as alleged by the Montenegro special prosecutor – a failed coup against the pro-Western government in Podgorica. In a previous report, the Insider identified that Col. Shirokov wired funds to a co-conspirator in Serbia via Western Union, using the address of the GRU headquarters as the “Sender” address.

Bellingcat compared the passport number on Col. Shishmakov’s cover-identity passport, with the numbers of the (cover-identity) passports of “Petrov” and “Boshirov”. The numbers were from the same batch, with only 26 intervening passport numbers between “Petrov”’s (654341297), and “Shirokov”’s (654341323) number. “Shirokov”’s passport was issued in August 2016, implying that Petrov’s and Boshirov’s passports were issued by the same special authority earlier that year. Indeed, as we will see in their international itinerary below, they start travelling in early April 2016, suggesting that only 26 passports were issued by this special authority between April and August 2016.

Bellingcat Releases Report On Alleged Movements, Passport Data Of 'GRU Operatives' Petrov, Boshirov

Click to see the full-size image. Image: bellingcat.com

Point #4 (source):

Bellingcat and the Insider further claimed that they have obtained the border crossing data of Petrov and Boshirov “for the period of validity of their international passports (mid-2016 through today).”

“The second trip Petrov takes up is perplexing.  On July 11th 2016, he crosses the border from Russia into Kazakhstan by bus, and reports to Kazakh border authorities “Beijing” as his final destination. It is uncertain as to how he planned to reach the capital of China, given the more than 5000 km between the border-crossing point and Beijing. It is possible that he gave that destination as a decoy, or that he planned to ride to Astana and then take a plane to China. Whatever his plans were, we lose track of him for the next 15 days, when he shows up again on a flight back to Moscow – from Israel’s capital Tel-Aviv.”

Bellingcat Releases Report On Alleged Movements, Passport Data Of 'GRU Operatives' Petrov, Boshirov

Click to see the full-size image. Image: bellingcat.com

Point #4 (source):

Bellingcat also speculated citing “a source in a Western European law-enforcement agency” that Petrov and Boshirov “were arrested on the territory of the Netherlands.”

“No information was provided as to the time and context of such arrests. European media have previously reported arrests and deportation of two unidentified Russian spies on Dutch soil; leaked police information linked the arrests with attempts by the two to smuggle hacking equipment to Switzerland, with the goal to infiltrate the Spiez laboratory.  The Spiez lab worked on investigating the chemical attacks in Syria, and later on determining the poisoning agent in the Skripal case.”

Conclusion

Summing up the reports released by Bellingcat and The Insider, it should be noted that all their claims and speculations on the identity of Petrov and Boshirov as well as their links to the GRU are based on the data, which cannot be verified independently right now. The key document, a screenshot of the alleged “biographical page” of  Petrov with “top secret” markings is highly likely a forgery.

The MSM and Western experts widely speculated that documents recently provied by the Russian Defense Ministry to confirm the involvement of the Ukrainian Armed Forces into the MH17 shootdown in 2014 could be faked. On the other hand, the MSM covers allegations of Bellingcat and The Insider based on suspicious screenshots almost as confirmed facts.

At the same time, the proximity of the passport numbers of Petrov, Boshirov and Shishmakov is an intersting fact, wich cannot be ignored. Nonetheless, real secret agents will never get passports via a “special issuing agency”. They would get their passports as common Russian citizens because of security issues. So, as some have already speculated, Petrov and Boshirov may be linked authorized persons of some Russia-linked entities or oligarchs. As to the alleged arrest of Petrov and Boshirov in the Netherlands, this is a common speculation not confirmed by any evidence.

While a part of the data provided by Bellingcat and The Insider spark interest, the core of the “analysis” looks like a fabricated disinformation or a journalistic fiction. The reports provided are produced in the best tradictions of the Western propaganda when real facts and interesting information are mixed with fake news and pre-planned disinformation.

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  • A source working in the Russian police force who regularly works with
    the central database confirmed to Bellingcat and The Insider that they
    have never seen such a stamp on any passport form in their career.
    —————-
    Wouldn’t be because Bellingcat made it up hey?
    …. Can’t believe folk still publish Bellingcat trash.

    • Promitheas Apollonious

      and then they do somehow manage, to lower their self to their level and spread his jerking off here as well.

  • Redadmiral

    Bellingcat tat to fuel stupidity. Sorry this shit fails to spark an interest

  • Kristina Rain Mcleod

    Oh yes thats right. I seem to remember thats how Secret / Special operatives working under DEEP cover have their paperwork filled out: there’s stamps and seals and phone numbers directly related to the MoD of the operatives parent country and are required so other governments can see that they’re being spied on!

    Yep this is legit work Bellingcat. Nice one LOL

    • Promitheas Apollonious

      Haven’t you watched the james bond movies? Allegedly a secret agent who always saves the world, how american of him, and though he is a deep under cover agent, all seem to know him by name and face and despite that none shot him on the head and get it over with.

      That is where the brits took their scenarios from. Forgive them they truly lack not only imagination, but also strongly remind of the comedian that the world is laughing at him, and he is happy in his illusions that they laugh with his joke.

      • You can call me Al

        This is not James Bond, more like Johnny English, our other spy.

        • Promitheas Apollonious

          ok stand corrected, as I am not very well versed, in movies and holyshit.

          • You can call me Al

            lol, neither am I, I had to ask my lad.

    • You can call me Al

      It is also very common for Russian 007s to fly to Israel and then lie that they are going to China, especially when they are Russian.

      As you, I can also conclude that yep this is legit work Bellingcat. Nice one LOL

  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    Quoting Bellingcat is worse than quoting SOHR (a guy in London suburb with a cell phone who hasn’t been to Syria for a decade).
    Bellingcat is an unqualified web surfer/gamer who stitches together dubious information that corrupt governments and the equally corrupt press adore. At least the SOHR guy has been to Syria at some point in time and probably knows the language, whatever his political affiliations.

    • Tudor Miron

      “Bellingcat is an unqualified web surfer/gamer”(c) – you sound like if he’s some sort of independent reporter. Both him and sohr guy are paid by English tax payers.

    • You can call me Al

      SOHR is based in Coventry, not a London suburb. I agree with every other word you wrote.

      • Carol Davidek-Waller

        Like the man who was accused of murdering his neighbor and his pet mouse who denied everything and produced the mouse.

        • You can call me Al

          😧 yeas, what ?. Sorry long day.

  • O rly

    i wonder if bellingcat already has all the proof and evidence of assads next chemical attack ready to publish, if he would just release it now he could save someone all the tedium of actually carrying it out

  • J Roderet

    “Bellingcat” is no different than any other Neocon — a sadistic, pathological liar.

  • RichardD

    Non open source unverifiable info from a source like Bellingcat is almost certainly part of an intel disinfo psyop.

  • putinbeater

    false passport

  • lovethemapples

    It is highly likely that they are GRU operatives. However there is no evidence, or will ever be. And to be frank evidence is what matters in these legal issues.

    • Tudor Miron

      “It is highly likely that they are GRU operatives”(c) – is that you Theresa? How’s it going with Brexit?

      • You can call me Al

        LOL

      • lovethemapples

        That is exactly the thing. As a normal user, I can write such things without evidence. Theresa is a politician and can/should only claim based on evidence not opinion.

      • Brother Ma

        I agree they are but who cares. US has them everywhere,so should Russia!

  • Tudor Miron

    It’s just lougheable. SF, if someone will start writing allegations from mental clinic, you will also post them here?

    • You can call me Al

      If it gives us a laugh at the expense of the tossers in government, I jolly well hope they will post it.

  • The Farney Fontenoy

    Bellingcat are about as reliable as CNN on April fool’s day!

  • Aphelion

    I know Southfront wants to maintain a certain level of impartiality, but I honestly do not see the justification of publishing anything from Bellingcat. I do not have any special insight in this particular issue, but I do have professional insight in some of their other activities – MH17 being one of them. Their work is worse than amateurish – it is non-scientific in every sense of the word in that they start with a conclusion (usually “Russia did it”) and then simply filter every little bit of unverified info they pick up from the internet that support their version and ignore everything else. What is worse, more and more they appear to utilise material “leaked” to them from intelligence insiders, once again completely unverified and usually impossible to verify, but used without question as long as it supports their case.

  • wimroffel

    Funny how we have to depend on leaked Russian sources. I would expect the British embassy having a copy of the passport for the visa application.

  • JPH

    ‘Highly likely’ Bellingcat is both fed info and funded by British Intelligence and affiliated organizations for posing as an independent organization. Russia should prefereably ignore any statement originating from Bellingcat and only deal with the British government directly. As it is now Russia seems to feel forced to react to Bellingcat and the UK government uses Bellingcat for all kind of unsubstantiated statements thus avoiding responsibility for those statement while exploiting those statements for cover. If Russia feels it has to react it should limit itself to directly addressing the UK government on any statement made by Bellingcat by asking the UK goverment if it stands by any such statement.

  • guardianofretro .

    When these PPL have travelled to Tel Aviv they could be Mossad Agents.