On September 14, the open-source intelligence group Bellingcat and the investigative news website The Insider released passport data belonging to Alexander Petrov, one of the men identified by British authorities as a suspect in the March 4 nerve-agent attack in Salisbury, showing that his passport files contain various “top-secret” markings that seem to contradict his claims that he’s a mere civilian.
Hours later, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that the leaked passport records include yet another piece of evidence linking Petrov to Russia’s intelligence services: below one marking, the phone number 195-79-66 appears. This number, the newspaper says, is linked to the Russian Defense Ministry’s Military Intelligence Directorate.
According to Novaya Gazeta, the automatic telephone station number “195” is tied to Moscow’s Khoroshkovsky District, which is also home to the headquarters of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Military Intelligence Directorate.
The newspaper says the phone number’s connections to the Defense Ministry can also be tested another way: if you take the first five digits of the number and plug them into any online search engine, you’ll find several phone numbers belonging to various subdivisions and affiliated offices of Russia’s Defense Ministry.
For example, the telephone number for the Defense Ministry’s magazine Foreign Military Review is 499-195-79-64 (only a single digit different from the number listed on Petrov’s documents). The magazine’s office is located off Khoroshkovsky Highway, near the GRU (Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation).
“Most likely, the number on Petrov’s Federal Migration Service certificate is the phone number for the branch office where they served,” a former Russian intelligence worker told Novaya Gazeta.