Russian Language Blog

Russian News: Suspected Salisbury Spies Uncovered Posted by on Oct 18, 2018 in News

If you follow international news, you might have heard about two Russian men who were accused of poisoning a Russian defector in Salisbury, England. As with any contentious, developing story, there are conflicting accounts of what happened, so I will include quotes from various news outlets covering it.

bottle of poison

Image via Pixabay

What Happened?

In early March 2018, former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal (Серге́й Скрипа́ль), who had defected to the UK, and his daughter Yulia (Ю́лия) were found unconscious on a park bench. Skripal had worked for a military intelligence agency, known as GRU (ГРУ) prior to 2010.

Экс-сотру́дник ГРУ Серге́й Скрипаль и его́ дочь Ю́лия бы́ли на́йдены без созна́ния на скаме́йке в Солсбери 4 ма́рта.
Ex-GRU employee Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on March 4.

Source: РБК (RBC)

The two survived, and it was established that they likely came into contact with a nerve agent called Novichok (новичо́к). Later, two civilians and a police officer (полице́йский) were poisoned, and one of these people victims died.


UK authorities released CCTV images of two Russian nationals who were accused of poisoning the Skripals. The alleged perpetrators’ names were Aleksandr Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov (Алекса́ндр Петро́в и Русла́н Боши́ров), although the police emphasized that these names could be fake. The Russian government has denied any involvement.

Брита́нская поли́ция назвала́ имена́ двух россия́н, подозрева́емых в отравле́нии экс-сотру́дника росси́йских спецслу́жб Серге́я Скрипаля и его́ до́чери в ма́рте э́того го́да.
British police has named two Russian suspected of poisoning a former Russian intelligence operative Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March of this year.

Source: BBC News Russian Service

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral//Image via Pixabay

Salisbury Tourists?

In a bizarre turn of events, the two suspects appeared on the Russian-government-sponsored RT network. They claimed they were regular tourists (тури́сты) enticed by the Salisbury cathedral and had nothing to do with the poisoning. The Russian internet found their stilted descriptions of the “123-meter spire” (шпиль) odd for tourists and erupted in memes and parodies.

The investigative outlet Bellingcat has since gone through images of military academy graduates and through the biographical details of the supposed “Petrov” and “Boshirov.” Based on this information, they claim to have established the real identities of the two men — Aleksandr Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga (Алекса́ндр Ми́шкин и Анато́лий Чепи́га). Former co-workers and classmates have since come forward saying they recognized the two as being the Salisbury suspects.

По слова́м Евдокимова, он узна́л «Петро́ва» ещё по́сле интервью́ Маргари́те Симоньян. По́сле э́того он написа́л в фейсбуке пост и обрати́лся к колле́гам по «Гарсо́ну», кото́рые согласи́лись, что «Петро́в» похо́ж на бы́вшего официа́нта Алекса́ндра Мишкина.
According to Yevdokimov, he recognized Petrov right after the interview given to [RT anchor] Margarita Simonyan came out. Afterwards, he made a Facebook post and asked his Garçon restaurant co-workers, who agreed that “Petrov” looked like the former waiter Aleksandr Mishkin.

Source: Дождь (TV Rain)

Since these revelations came out, there have been reports of a third Russian operative allegedly involved in the poisoning. This has been a very murky story, indeed, but it has also showed the power of investigative journalism and holding governments accountable. How has it been covered in the media that you read?

Tags: , , , ,
Keep learning Russian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.