GRU Globetrotters 2: The Spies Who Loved Switzerland
In the first part of this “GRU Globetrotters” series, Bellingcat and its investigative partner The Insider teamed up with BBC Newsnight to trace the London movements and potential role of Russian GRU officer Denis Sergeev during the time that the Skripals were poisoned in Salisbury. The research was made possible thanks to telephone metadata which Bellingcat obtained from a whistle-blower previously working for the mobile phone operator to whose services Sergeev’s fake alter ego “Sergey Fedotov” subscribed.
In this second installment, we teamed up with Swiss media group Tamedia to trace Sergeev’s multiple trips to Switzerland in the period of 2014 to 2018, with a focus on his 2016-2018 trips for which we have obtained telephone metadata.
- Bellingcat initially identified “Sergey Fedotov” as Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev, a senior GRU officer who had been decorated for being wounded in military action in the Caucasus where he served as a Spetsnaz field commander.
- In a follow-up publication, we reported that in 2015 he and a team of other undercover GRU officers flew under fake identities to Bulgaria during the days when a Bulgarian arms exporter fell into a coma in yet-unexplained circumstances. Following that publication, Bulgarian authorities announced that they have reopened the 2015 cold case, and confirmed that “Sergey Fedotov” was a person of interest.
- In the previous part of this investigation, we researched Sergeev/”Fedotov”’s data and voice communication during his London trip and concluded that he likely played a supervising and coordinating role in the clandestine operation of GRU officers Col. Chepiga and Col. Mishkin in Salisbury. Our reporting partner BBC also cited its own sources who disclosed that Sergeev has a rank of major general.
- In preparing the current report we reconstructed, often on a minute-by-minute basis, Sergeev’s multiple trips to Switzerland, the last of which was just over a …read more