Russia's Interior Ministry says a former Kremlin official, whom media reports have called a CIA informant, has been officially declared missing.
The ministry said on September 23 that it had added Oleg Smolenkov, born in 1969, to its list of missing people and that it has launched a search to locate him.
Earlier this month, U.S. media reports from Reuters, CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post said a CIA informant in the Russian government had been extracted and brought to the United States in 2017.
Some of the reports said the unidentified Russian had provided intelligence from inside President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The CIA, the State Department, and the White House have said the reports were inaccurate.
Public records from the Russian government administration in 2008 and 2010 show a person named Oleg Smolenkov employed in the administration of Putin, who served as prime minister between 2008 and 2012. In 2010, Smolenkov was promoted to a relatively high civil-service ranking, under an order signed by then-President Dmitry Medvedev.
Smolenkov was listed earlier as working as a second secretary at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., according to a personnel listing from the time. The ambassador at that time was Yury Ushakov, who later returned to Moscow and became a deputy chief of staff for Putin and then a foreign-policy adviser.
The Russian newspaper Vedomosti reported that Smolenkov was the chief adviser to Ushakov in the Kremlin, and a New York Times reporter on September 11 posted a photo on Twitter of a phone listing for Ushakov's team indicating that Smolenkov indeed held that post.
The Russian government confirmed Smolenkov's employment, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on September 10 that 'he was fired several years ago.'
According to the Russian media reports, Smolenkov disappeared with his wife, Antonina, and three children while on holiday in the Adriatic country of Montenegro in June 2017.
With reporting by TASS, Interfax, and RIA Novosti
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036