A spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, said that employee Oleg Smolenkov, who is called the alleged CIA informant by a number of media outlets, actually worked for the head of state’s administration, but was fired several years ago.
“Indeed, Smolenkov worked in the presidential administration, but several years ago he was fired by internal order,” RIA Novosti quoted the Kremlin’s official as saying.
He emphasized that Smolenkov’s position did not belong to the category of senior officials.
“This is the only thing I can say; I do not have other information. All these discussions of the American media about who urgently exported whom, from whom they saved, and so on - this, you understand, is such a genre of pulp fiction - criminal reading, ”he added.
- Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov
- © Kremlin Pool / Global Look Press
In turn, the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation said that Smolenkov never worked for them. This was reported by Elena Krylova, press secretary of the Administrative Department.
“Smolenkov was not an employee of the Office of the President of the Russian Federation,” she said.
Earlier, CNN reported that in 2017, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency conducted a special operation to evacuate its agent from Russia, who allegedly had access to Russian officials of the highest level.
According to CNN, the spy was decided to be taken out of the country because of "Trump's sloppy attitude to classified information," which could lead to the exposure of the agent. At the same time, the channel emphasized that the order was given shortly after the owner of the White House, at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak, allegedly discussed "some" top-secret intelligence.
Commenting on these reports, Lavrov said that during that conversation no state secrets were discussed.
“You mentioned my meeting with President Trump in May 2017 at the White House. So, no one in the course of this conversation gave anyone any state or even non-state secrets, ”TASS quoted Lavrov as saying. “This, incidentally, was confirmed by Mr. McMaster, the US National Security Advisor, who was then present at the meeting, and other people who are familiar with what was discussed then confirm this.”
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, former Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak and US President Donald Trump
- © Flickr / mfarussia
The American television channel, based on information from a "senior intelligence official and a person who is familiar with the situation," described this informant as a source of "the highest level for the US in the Kremlin," which "held a high position in the national security infrastructure."
According to CNN, he allegedly worked for Americans for at least ten years.
The CIA did not confirm this story, but did not refute it either. At the same time, the intelligence agency indicated that Trump's treatment of classified information could not be the reason for such an operation.
“The erroneous assumptions that the president’s work with the most secret intelligence of our country, to which he has access every day, led to the alleged withdrawal operation, are incorrect,” said Brittany Bramell, director of the CIA's public relations department.
The head of state himself was pleased with such a comment by the CIA and added that he did not know anything about this story.
“So what the CIA said completely suits me. I heard that it answered. I don’t know anything, ”he said.
In turn, the newspaper The New York Times brought new "details" of this story. According to her, the agent was allegedly recruited by the American secret services many years ago, when he was still a middle-level official. After that, he went up the ranks until he finally reached a position that provided him with access to important information.
The publication noted that the spy was considered by the CIA as one of the most valuable Russian informants in the case of the alleged "interference" of Moscow in the US presidential election in 2016. Including his testimony, the newspaper writes, American intelligence based its findings on the fact that Vladimir Putin personally ordered to intervene in the US election campaign. At the same time, the informant himself, according to the publication, did not belong to the circle of those close to the Russian president, but "regularly saw him."
- Lobby at the CIA headquarters in Langley
- © Larry Downing
In its note, the newspaper named another reason why the alleged agent could be recalled from Russia. According to her, the leadership of the security services did not take Trump’s actions at all, but the interest in the mysterious source in Moscow from the American media, which threatened his life with his publications.
According to The New York Times, the spy initially refused to demand the CIA leave the country. This decision aroused the suspicion of the American secret services that their employee had become a double agent, and made him doubt the reliability of the data presented to him, the newspaper writes. However, after pressure from Langley and another leak in the media, he still decided to leave.
The publication also notes that the termination of its work in Moscow “blinded” the American intelligence services during the congressional elections in 2018, as well as on the eve of the 2020 presidential race.
A similar point of view is shared by CNN intelligence and security analyst, former CIA agent Robert Baer, who called the agent’s recall “a colossal failure.”
“This is a huge failure, and we, in fact, are now forced to read between the lines. In Moscow, by and large, we were blinded, ”he said.
In turn, the NBC channel said that he knew the address of the spy. According to NBC, until recently, he lived under his own name not far from Washington, and government security was responsible for his security. NBC reporters also became aware of the name of the alleged agent, but they did not divulge it at the request of the American authorities.
Meanwhile, the Telegram channel “Ruthless PR” published data according to which Oleg Smolenkov, an employee of the presidential administration, could be the alleged CIA informant. On June 14, 2017, he, along with his wife and three children, went on vacation to Montenegro, after which he no longer got in touch. In September of the same year, a criminal case under the article “Murder” was instituted on this fact in the Investigative Committee. According to the results of the investigation, it became known that Smolenkov and his family are alive and are in another country, the Kommersant newspaper reported.
Lunge vs. Trump
The Director General of the Center for Political Information, Alexei Mukhin, did not rule out that this stuffing could be connected with the internal political struggle in the USA. After the investigation of the special prosecutor Robert Muller about the alleged collusion between the campaign headquarters of Trump and Moscow did not bring the necessary results for the Democrats, the American president began to prepare counter charges. Under these conditions, Trump’s opponents needed to re-inflate the story of Russian “interference”.
- CIA Headquarters in Langley
- © Library of Congress
“The Trump administration decided to give a large-scale response to its opponents after the results of the investigation of special prosecutor Robert Muller did not meet the expectations of the Democrats. In these conditions, the opponents of the head of state in the American establishment needed an information occasion that would somehow be connected with Russia and discredit the US president, ”the expert said in an interview with RT.
Senator Alexei Pushkov in his Twitter expressed the opinion that this topic is being promoted in order to reinforce the version of Russia's interference in the elections.
“The United States is promoting a new“ spy story ”in support of the aging version of“ Russian interference in the election. ” As usual, the shooters are CNN and The New York Times, talking about a spy who did not know who worked, but supposedly knew everything about everyone. The story is muddy, the goal is clear, ”he said.
The United States is promoting a new “espionage story” in support of the aging version of “Russian interference in the election.” As usual, the shooters are CNN and the New York Times, who talk about a spy who, for some reason, worked by someone, but supposedly knew everything about everyone. The story is muddy, the goal is clear.- Alexey Pushkov (@Alexey_Pushkov) September 10, 2019
This opinion is shared by Nikita Danyuk, Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts at RUDN University. He did not rule out that this information campaign was directed against Trump.
“Any mention of the US president in the context of Russia is always perceived in the western mainstream media as another proof that he is an agent of the Kremlin,” the expert said in an interview with RT. - Trump is now constantly under attack, because the Democrats and his party members, to whom he is not sympathetic, are still trying to reinforce in the public mind the idea that Trump is inextricably linked with the Kremlin, interference in the elections. I don’t exclude that Trump is one of the goals of this informational stuffing as well. ”
At the same time, he believes that information about the “agent” could appear in the media also in order to exclude possible warming in relations between Russia and the USA.
“Russian-American relations are now at such a low level that any positive signal, constructive informational background can quickly be leveled by the appearance of this kind of news. I do not rule out the possibility that this news appeared due to the fact that conditions were hypothetically created for the start of constructive cooperation between Washington and Moscow. If all this is confirmed, then such information will affect a number of steps, and the conditional constructive channel between the leaders will again turn into a destructive one, ”the expert summed up.