- Revelation: The CIA took its best 'mole' out of the Kremlin from Russia for fear that Trump would give him away
If it were not because from his office near the Kremlin he passed to Washington evidence of Russian intrusion in the presidential elections of 2016 and then escaped in a boat through the Adriatic, it could be said that Oleg Smolenkov is a boring guy. He was born in 1969 in Ivanovo, a depressed industrial hub in central Russia and worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the mid-2000s he was appointed second secretary of the Russian embassy in Washington, in charge of financial and economic affairs: more office than adrenaline. But he was in the capital of the enemy empire, and there he met interesting guys. Some worked for the US Government, but no one suspected dinners after hours. Oleg liked to drink, but in the office he knew how to watch, so he won the trust of the ambassador in the US capital, Yuri Ushakov . And also that of US intelligence agents. When he returned to Moscow he was already a mole willing to inform the CIA of what is being cooked in the Kremlin: big game before the new Cold War that was coming.
'The New York Times' published this week that the agent was key for US intelligence agencies to verify that the Russian president had personally orchestrated Moscow's interference in the US presidential elections. Russia admits that he worked in the Presidential Administration, two blocks from the Kremlin, but had a lower rank and was fired before his escape. A 2014 telephone directory found by Reuters presents him as an assistant to Yuri Ushakov himself, today the main foreign policy advisor to the Russian leader. Smolenkov is unlikely to share meetings with Putin, but with people who met regularly with the president.
It is not the only occasion on which an informant in Putin's environment is recorded. The first time was in very different circumstances. In the second half of the 80s, Putin was a KGB agent in Dresden (German Democratic Republic), where he lived with his wife and two young daughters. In spite of the agency's warnings of not engaging with strangers, Putin's then wife, Liudmila, shared confidences with a German interpreter who, according to the researcher Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, reported years later, turned out to be an infiltrated BND agent, The intelligence service of West Germany. He had the task of passing information on the activities of Soviet agents in socialist Germany. The infiltrator - whose code name was 'Balcony' because of her voluptuous figure - received from Liudmila's lips confidences of marriage problems of the Putin: that Vladimir was abusive at home and a womanizer outside, dirty rags without further confirmation that were published in 2011 for 'Berliner Zeitung'.
Ironies of fate, Vladimir Putin was dedicated in Dresden to the same thing that the CIA did with the gray assistant of the Russian ambassador in Washington who now takes the news: make lists of people who, back to their country, could give information to the services secrets
The bad thing about moles is that they don't last long . "Most spies do not last more than three or five years," Joseph Fitsanakis, a national intelligence and national security specialist at Coastal Carolina University, tells EL MUNDO. When Washington perceived that Smolenkov was at risk of being discovered, either by media speculation or, as CNN has ventured, by indiscretions of President Donald Trump, he decided to take him out of the country. Smolenkov accepted the second. Despite travel restrictions on officials in sensitive positions, he went to Montenegro on vacation with his second wife (Antonina) and three children, one of whom is the son of a previous marriage of his wife and has left the country without permission from the biological father.
On the Balkan coast a ship served them to disappear without a trace. Moscow opened an investigation for murder, but something should have been perceived because it closed 10 days later. Smolenkov was already in Stafford (Virginia, USA), the former filtration had been a success : much less dramatic than the removal of the KGB agent Oleg Gordievsky in 1985 through the Finnish border in the trunk of an MI6 agent's car. The legendary Gordievsky became disenchanted with the KGB after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. We don't know what made Smolenkov take the step of betraying his government. But although Moscow has minimized the matter, they have already shot heads: officials who allowed him to go on vacation to Montenegro have been fired.
The mansion in Stafford is empty these days. The neighbors saw them hurried out while the TV started talking about them. The Russian 'moles' have disappeared again.
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