Oleg Smolenkov hadn’t been seen after he went on holiday in 2017, but Russian authorities concluded he had fled abroad

The CIA Russian spy drama currently gripping Washington has taken a new turn as Russian media reported that a suspected US mole inside the Kremlin was a member of Vladimir Putin’s administration who disappeared in 2017 and was initially thought to have been murdered.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed the man, Oleg Smolenkov, had worked for the Kremlin but played down his importance, insisting he was a low-level employee who had been fired two years ago.

Related: US removed covert source in Russia due to safety concerns under Trump – report

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