Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has confirmed that Oleg Smolenkov worked in the Russian Presidential Administration a few years ago but was fired under an internal directive.
“It is true, Smolenkov used to work in the Presidential Administration but a few years ago he was dismissed through an internal instruction,” Peskov told reporters. “His position did not belong to the category of high-ranking state officials.”
“This is the only thing I can tell you, I have no other information,” Peskov said, clarifying that he spoke about 2016-2017. The spokesman also did not specify the reason behind Smolenkov’s dismissal.
The Kremlin official added that the former administration staffer did not attend meetings with the Russian leader, TASS reports.
“No, this position does not involve any contacts with the president,” he clarified. Responding to a question whether Oleg Smolenkov served as an assistant to Yuri Ushakov, an international affairs aide to Vladimir Putin, Peskov said, “I gave you the information that I could give. Naturally, all the information on the work of the Presidential Administration simply could not be provided.”
Asked to confirm whether Smolenkov was a CIA agent, Peskov responded negatively. “No, I cannot confirm this because I do not know whether he was an agent or not. I can only confirm that there actually was this staffer and that he was subsequently fired,” Peskov specified. He added that the Kremlin is not searching for this individual.
“Because we are not in the business of looking for people,” he said in response to a question if the Kremlin knew anything about Smolenkov’s whereabouts. The spokesman also added that he had no information about what happened to Smolenkov after his dismissal or whether he disappeared from Russia in particular.
Commenting on CNN’s reports that the American intelligence ‘extracted’ its ‘agent’ from Russia in 2017 fearing that he would be exposed, Peskov said that this is “pulp fiction” style talk. “All these speculations in the American media that somebody urgently extracted someone and who rescued someone and so on are some sort of pulp fiction, you know. Let’s leave it to them,” he urged. At the same time, Peskov assured that the Kremlin had no issue with Russia’s counterintelligence operations. “Russia’s counterintelligence is working just fine,” he emphasized.
CIA agent reports
On Monday, CNN reported that the American intelligence ‘extracted its top spy’ from Russia in 2017 fearing that he might be compromised. The media outlet did not name the agent only claiming that he was “one of its [US] highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government.”
In turn, The New York Times stressed that he occupied an “influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin.”
A number of Russian media outlets then reported that this unnamed spy could go by the name of Oleg Smolenkov, citing anonymous sources.
According to an inside source cited by CNN, the decision was made particularly due to concerns that US President Donald Trump and his administration were careless about classified information, which could have led to his exposure.
Brittany Bramell, the CIA director of public affairs, branded the CNN reports as inaccurate. “CNN's narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false. Misguided speculation that the President's handling of our nation's most sensitive intelligence – which he has access to each and every day – drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate,” she said.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump assured that he is not aware about the story, underlining that the CIA comments are perfectly acceptable to him.