Russia's Foreign Ministry has formally appealed to Interpol, following media reports that a missing former Kremlin aide named Oleg Smolenkov is currently living in the United States.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called claims that Smolenkov was in fact a CIA informant “classic propaganda,” attributing the reports to campaigning for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Zakharova said CNN, which broke the story, “tried to shoot” Donald Trump, but “ended up hitting” Barack Obama.
Oleg Smolenkov previously worked as an assistant at Russia's U.S. embassy and an aide inside the Kremlin, during which time he allegedly provided intelligence to the CIA. Smolenkov left Russia with his family in 2017 and reportedly moved to the United States, where he resettled in Virginia under state protection, while still living under his real name. After he disappeared from Russia, federal officials presumed his death and opened a murder investigation. Sources told the newspaper Vedomosti, however, that the Federal Security Service and Foreign Intelligence Service had already discovered his American whereabouts, before CNN's scoop.