Alleged CIA mole was a minor official, says Kremlin
The Kremlin on Tuesday played down US media reports of a CIA spy inside Russia’s presidential administration, calling them “pulp fiction,” but said a low-level official who Russian media suggested was the agent had worked there before being fired.
CNN reported on Monday that the US had successfully extracted one of its highest-level covert sources inside Russia in 2017. The New York Times later said the informant had sent secrets to Washington for decades.
A source familiar with US monitoring of Russian activities confirmed to Reuters that such a CIA informant inside the Russian government did exist and that the informant had been extracted and brought to the US.
Russian daily newspaper Kommersant said on Tuesday the official may have been a man called Oleg Smolenkov, who is reported to have disappeared with his wife and three children while on holiday in Montenegro in 2017 and is now reported to be living in the US.
Asked about the matter, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Smolenkov had really worked in the Russian presidential administration but had been fired in 2016-17. “It is true that Smolenkov worked in the presidential administration, but he was fired several years ago. His job was not at a senior official level,” he said.
Smolenkov did not have direct access to President Vladimir Putin, Peskov added.