MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Tuesday that a former Russian official identified in media reports as a CIA asset inside Russia had worked in Russia’s presidential administration, but did not have direct access to President Vladimir Putin.
U.S. media reported on Monday that U.S. intelligence carried out an operation in 2017 to extract a high-level Russian official and CIA asset.
Russian daily newspaper Kommersant said on Tuesday the official may have been a man called Oleg Smolenkov. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Smolenkov had worked in the Russian presidential administration but had been fired in 2016/17.
He declined to say whether he was an agent or not, but said that U.S. media reports read like “pulp fiction”.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Andrew Osborn; editing by Andrew Osborn)