On Monday, as The Inquisitr reported, media reports starting with CNN and quickly confirmed by other outlets said that in 2017, the United States Central Intelligence Agency had pulled a top spy out of Russia. This spy is believed to have provided the intelligence that led the CIA to conclude that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered the 2016 election sabotage operation designed to help Donald Trump win the White House.
One day later, details have emerged about the identity of that spy. He is reported to be Oleg Smolenkov, a top aide to former Russian ambassador to the U.S. Yuri Ushakov, according to a Washington Post report. And amazingly, Smolenkov — at least until Tuesday — was living in the Washington D.C. suburb of Stafford, Virginia, in a sprawling, six-bedroom mansion valued at $925,000 — which he owned under his real name.
Smolenkov’s former boss, Ushakov, is reported to be among Putin’s closest associates, according to The Washington Post, meaning that though Smolenkov himself was not close to Putin, he likely had access to intimate details of Putin’s actions and policies, making him a highly valued intelligence asset for the U.S.
Ushakov is “as close to Putin as you can get with respect to foreign policy matters and especially the United States,” Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, told the outlet.
According to the investigative site Bellingcat, Smolenkov’s identity as the U.S. spy who was “exfiltrated” from Russia in 2017 was discovered easily, by an online search for any high-ranking Russian officials who suddenly disappeared from the country in 2017, when according to Monday’s reports, the CIA extracted Smolenkov from Russia.
Bellingcat reporter Aric Toler found a Russian-language media article online reporting that Smolenkov along with his wife and three children disappeared while vacationing in Montenegro on June 14, 2017. That date was approximately one month after Trump reportedly met in the Oval Office with two top Russian officials — Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — and revealed classified intelligence to them concerning the fight against ISIS in Syria.
According to the initial CNN report, CIA officials became concerned that Trump would — or may have already — outed Smolenkov to the Russians as well, increasing the urgency to bring the spy to the United States.
But on Tuesday, when a reporter visited the home registered to Smolenkov in Virginia, the former Russian official and his family had vanished from there as well, according to a Radio Free Europe report.
One neighbor told the RFE reporter that the family living in the spacious home had “left their house late after dark on September 9.” But the neighbor had no information as to where they might have gone. Though few neighbors appeared to know the family, public records showed that the home was purchased on June 4, 2018, by Antonina Smolenkov and Oleg Smolenkov, who in March of this year transferred ownership of the home to a trust.
A Washington Post reporter also visited the home on Tuesday, finding it “unoccupied.” Judging by the items strewn on the grounds, “the family seems to have left in a hurry,” the reporter added.