The CIA mole in the heart of the Kremlin may have been recruited when he was a modest but drink-loving & # 39; lackey & # 39; was at the Russian embassy in Washington, it was claimed Tuesday.
Oleg Smolenkov complained to at least one colleague that he was underpaid, was reported in Moscow, where he is widely mentioned as the most valuable possession of the spy agency.
Smolenkov, 50, disappeared in June 2017 after taking his wife and three children on vacation in Montenegro – causing Russian authorities to investigate murder.
He left a $ 167,000 apartment in Moscow and purchased a six-bedroom home in Stafford, Virginia – a suburb south of Washington DC and close to the FBI and naval bases in Quantico – for the following year for public property data. $ 925,000.
On Tuesday, the house was deserted and the neighbors claimed the family had disappeared the previous day after CNN revealed that the CIA had ordered its most prized possession to be filtered from Moscow in May 2017 & # 39; ; – and after an NBC correspondent approached the house.
First report of CNN on Monday described a panic within the office following an Oval Office meeting in 2017, where Trump aroused fears about what journalists called an informal approach to dealing with secret information.
Home in Virginia: Oleg Smolenkov and his wife Antonia bought this $ 925,000 six-bedroom home on a dead end in Stafford, VA, a suburb close to Quantico
No sign of life: the house is situated on a large piece of land with a well-kept lawn surrounded by forest. A neighbor who refused to be identified confirmed that Russians lived in the house and were nice neighbors, but had left the previous evening.
Former house: Smolenkov fled this two-room apartment in Moscow, built when Mikhail Gorbachev was the Soviet leader
Dingy: the former home of the Smolenkov family is located nine miles north of the Kremlin and far away from their six-bedroom Virginia bedroom
At the door: this is the entrance to the two-room apartment on the 17th floor where Smolenkov lived in Moscow
Told not to speak: Misha, a family member of Smolenkov, now lives in the apartment, which apparently now belongs to the disappeared father-in-law of the & # 39; source & # 39;
Trump had met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then US ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
A photographer employed by a Russian news agency was admitted to the meeting, but no American journalists were allowed to witness it. Reports later described that Trump seized the notes of an American translator to prevent them from circulating within his administration.
By Tuesday the espionage had turned, with The New York Times and other media that corrected the timeline to show that the CIA had hatched its plan to exfiltrate the & # 39; & # 39; – while Trump was on his way to the office.
The US government has not confirmed Smolenkov's identity as the asset whose exfiltration was ordered by the CIA for fear of being exposed.
There were also concerns that Smolenkov, a twice-married assistant to a former former diplomat, himself was a double agent when he refused the CIA's first request to leave Russia.
However, he accepted the second offer and, according to Russian sources, went to Montenegro, where he, his wife and three children disappeared.
Russian authorities reportedly opened a murder investigation, but there were conflicting stories about how it ended.
Smolenkov lived openly in Virginia under his own name and one account claimed that he had been traced by the Kremlin authorities.
In Moscow there was anger on Tuesday about the astonishing revelation that the CIA had a source so close to Vladimir Putin that he had photographed documents on the desk of the Russian strong man.
The information was even considered too sensitive for President Barack Obama's daily briefing; the CIA sent it to the Oval office in a separate sealed envelope.
Smolenkov's name was presented to the Kremlin at a press conference where Moscow acknowledged that he had worked for the government, but said he had no direct access to Putin.
He had worked in Yury Ushakov in the early 2000s, who was an ambassador to the US from 1998 to 2007 before returning to Russia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov would not say whether Smolenkov was the mole, but said he was fired in 2016 or 2017. He also said US media read reports like & # 39; pulp fiction & # 39 ;.
& # 39; His position was not in the senior official category, & # 39; Peskov said. & # 39; This position does not require contacts with the president as such.
& # 39; I don't know if he was an agent or not. I can only confirm that he worked for the presidential administration and was fired. & # 39;
The Kremlin does not know where Smolenkov is now and is not looking for him, the spokesman said.
However, other sources suggested a plausible reason for Smolenkov to be a target for CIA recruitment.
One said he complained that he had paid at least one colleague too little.
And according to a former friend, Smolenkov drank a little more than usual. Not so heavy, but a bit higher than the norm and often. & # 39;
No comment: Vladimir Putin has not given a public statement about the claim that a CIA asset has photographed documents on his desk
Russian media have identified the alleged CIA spy in the Kremlin as Oleg Smolenkov, an assistant to the former US ambassador Yury Ushakov (shown in April this year)
Reports claimed that the decision to remove the spy was taken after the meeting of Donald Trump's Oval Office with Russian officials in 2017 (left, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; right, Ambassador Sergei Kislyak)
He also knew intimate details of the movements of the best Russians when he worked at the embassy.
Fear of Russian mole after poison attack in Great Britain
Intelligence officials fear that the mole that was taken from Moscow could still be threatened in the United States.
Those fears seem justified after another former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, was poisoned in Britain last March.
Two Russian assassins smeared the nerve agent Novichok on the front door of Skripal in Salisbury after flying over from Moscow, say the British authorities.
Sergei and his daughter Yulia Skripal were taken seriously ill but both survived.
However, another woman died after being accidentally exposed to the Soviet era nerve agent.
Britain accused the Kremlin and its GRU intelligence chiefs of the order to attack and led to a wave of diplomatic expulsions.
The British police identified two men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, because the assassins and the government said Putin & # 39; final responsibility & # 39; was for poisoning.
But the Russian government has denied any involvement and the two men claimed in a bizarre interview that they were only there to see Salisbury Cathedral.
Skripal was a Russian military intelligence officer convicted of espionage for Britain.
He was imprisoned in Russia and released as part of a spy exchange with the West, which took place in Vienna in 2010.
His current residence is unknown.
In 2006, another former Russian agent, Alexander Litvinenko, was killed by a radioactive poison in a hotel in London.
A public investigation concluded that he had been murdered by the Russian intelligence service, probably with the approval of President Vladimir Putin.
Similarly, Britain mentioned two suspects, but the Kremlin denied everything.
& # 39; He had a lackey function at the embassy, if I may say so, & # 39; told an anonymous diplomatic source to the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
& # 39; During his work at the embassy, he was involved in the number of household issues, such as the purchase of service cars, the purchase of goods for the embassy shop and for protocol needs. & # 39;
& # 39; Meet the ambassador, meet the wife of the ambassador, take the car to the desired entrance, make an appointment for the boss with a good dentist.
& # 39; At the same time, Oleg Borisovich (Smolenkov) was a good professional. & # 39;
The source said: & # 39; I have a good idea of how everything works in the US, but give me the task: for example, organizing a private flight from Moscow to Los Angeles – I don't even know where to go.
& # 39; But he knew it. The embassy spends a lot of time maintaining work (and sometimes private) visits from ministers, delegates, heads of regions and state-owned companies and other leaders.
& # 39; This requires the state to do such & # 39; Keep Smolenkovs & # 39;
In the old-fashioned former apartment building of 17 floors on Kargopolskaya Street, about nine miles north of the Kremlin, no neighbors have admitted remembering Oleg Smolenkov and his wife Antonina.
The value of their old 11th floor apartment with just two rooms – now occupied by a family member of Antonia called Misha – is set at $ 168,500. It was built in the Gorbachev era.
When DailyMail.com visited the flat, Misha called Oleg's father-in-law – who now apparently owns – to ask if he could speak.
He was told that he was not. In the late 1920s, Misha said: & I cannot comment. I can't. & # 39;
It is known that Oleg was married to another woman, Regina, when he was posted to the American embassy some ten years ago. His second wife is Antonina.
Antonina's mother, a dentist who treated diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, boasted about her new son-in-law who also worked here.
She & # 39; rejoiced & # 39; about marriage, said family friends.
In 2013 she shared the joyful news about the birth of her grandchild.
Three years ago, Oleg was reminded that he dutifully visited his mother three or four times a week and her & # 39; full pockets & # 39; brought food.
& # 39; And then he disappeared, & # 39; Moskovsky Komsomolets reported.
Now Antonina's mother organizes help for her husband's sick mother.
The respected Russian military expert Alexander Golts called the unveiling of a spy with access to the Kremlin a & # 39; horrible failure of counter espionage & # 39 ;.
He said that Smolenkov's exposure was so terrible that Russian leadership got stuck.
& # 39; If a person of such a level, roughly equivalent in rank to a great general, disappears without trace with his family, you had to raise the alarm at the counter espionage service right now to find out what happened, & # 39 ; he said.
& # 39; And I think that at the moment everyone understood what happened, wiped it out and decided to remain silent.
& # 39; And all decisions, if any, were made at that time, two years ago.
& # 39; I don't know where he was recruited, but probably in America, in Washington. He had been working at the embassy, led by the current presidential assistant on foreign affairs Yury Ushakov. & # 39;
A senior Putin ally, Russian Senator Frants Klintsevich, rejected the claims of an American source of the Kremlin as a & # 39; complete fake & # 39 ;.
He compared it to the story of Max Otto von Stierlitz, the main character in a popular Russian espionage series.
& # 39; The time of Stierlitz is long gone if it ever existed, and there is no way that a kind of American informant could ever work within the Russian government, he said.
& # 39; Of course the whole story is completely fake and also a badly made up fake.
& # 39; We have another attempt to discredit Donald Trump by showing him as a kind of amateur who can break the entire network of American agents with his creepy movements. & # 39;
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