Local media released a photo on Thursday of suspected defector Oleg Smolenkov when he was a Russian foreign ministry employee
Intriguing questions are being asked in Moscow about whether defector Oleg Smolenkov’s wife was the prime mover in his role as a CIA spy.
Glamorous Antonina Smolenkova, 35, had family links to the U.S. at the time she began an affair with the diplomat-turned-Kremlin insider who quit Russia for America two years ago, according to her ex-husband.
Evgeny Agafonov alleged Friday that he broke up with his wife after he found that she sent Smolenkov ‘intimate pictures and love messages’.
He also claimed that she was driven by greed and ‘wanted money, comfort and luxury.’
Smolenkov was her boss, and chief aide to Vladimir Putin’s most senior foreign affairs adviser. He is claimed in Russia to be the mole ‘exfiltrated’ in May 2017 by the CIA after photographing secrets on Vladimir Putin’s desk and revealing his plans to interfere in the 2016 election to tip it to Donald Trump.
He may also have been a source for the notorious ‘golden showers’ dossier, drawn up on then presidential candidate Trump by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Based on the revelations Sergei Kanev – an investigative journalist and secret services expert – posted referring to Antonina: ‘Now it’s clear why Oleg Smolenkov began working for the CIA.
‘I’d have sold out Putin and a couple of dozen swindlers for these eyes.’
The posting sparked comments asking commenting ‘honeytrap,’ ‘Is she a spy?,’ ‘Who hired whom, she recruited him or the other way round?’
Ex-husband Agafonov portrayed his ex-wife as highly ambitious and suggested he targeted the older man when they shared an office.
The latest revelations come as Moscow maybe mounting an operation to blacken Smolenkov over his alleged ‘treachery’.
Agafonov made the discovery of her relationship with Smolenkov, a decade and a half her senior, when they were on holiday at a presidential administration sanatorium in Crimea.
‘One evening I took her phone and did what I never did – I read her messages,’ said Agafonov, 35, a businessman.
Involved? Antonina Smolenkova’s ex-husband says that she sexted Smolenkov and he found the evidence. Then she went on to marry Smolenkov – and vanish with him
Attack: Evgeny Agafonov called his former wife ‘a spoiled and greedy person. ‘I think she wanted money, comfort and luxury,’ he said.
No going back: Antonina Smolenkov appears unlikely to ever be able to return to her Russian homeland. She and her husband Oleg have vanished again from their Virginia home
Scorned ex: Evgeny Agafonov, first husband of Antonina Smolenkova, says he found her sexts to her then boss – and now has lost his son after she vanished in 2017
‘I came across correspondence with Smolenkov. She sent him intimate pictures and love messages.
‘There was a very loud scandal. It seemed that all the guards of the sanatorium, they ran towards the noise.’
They were provided with separate bedrooms and next day Antonina – who studied at the Russian foreign ministry’s college as a diplomatic secretary – left with their son, who now lives in the U.S. and no longer sees his real father.
Agafonov said that when their relationship broke down Antonina’s parents returned from the United States where they had been working.
There is a suggestion that her mother, a dentist, was posted to the Russian delegation at the United Nations, while her father worked as a security guard.
Antonia’s ex-husband said that she had made several trips to the U.S. to see her parents when they were based there.
One was in spring 2009 after she had met Smolenkov at work, but before their relationship had been disclosed.
In 2008 when he went with her to collect parcels from her parents in the US, they met Smolenkov at the airport, he said.
‘He arrived in an official car with a driver, as I remember now – it was a white Ford.’
It was the only time he met his love rival.
At the time both Antonina and Oleg worked with Vladimir Putin’s trusted foreign affairs advisor Yuri Ushakov, a powerful Kremlin insider who has refused to comment on the embarrassing defection.
‘The former Russian ambassador [to the U.S.] immediately after returning [in 2008] from Washington to Moscow offered his associate the position of assistant, and college graduate Antonina was appointed as the secretary,’ reported Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper which interviewed the ex-husband.
Smolenkov has separately lived and worked in America when he was married to his first wife Regina.
He was on Ushakov’s diplomatic staff at the U.S. embassy in Washington.
Target: Vladimir Putin, who met Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday, had his secrets photographed on his own desk by the CIA mole identified in Russia as Oleg Smolenkov, it has been reported
Key figure: Russian media have identified the alleged CIA spy in the Kremlin as Oleg Smolenkov, an aide to former ambassador to the U.S. Yury Ushakov. His wife was his secretary and cheated on her first husband with him, the scorned husband revealed
Virginia home: Oleg Smolenkov and his wife Antonia bought this $925,000, six-bedroom home on a cul-de-sac in Stafford, VA, a suburb close to Quantico
Dingy: The former home of the Smolenkov family is nine miles north of the Kremlin and a far cry from their Virginia six-bedroom spread
Fears for Russian mole after poison attack in Britain
Intelligence officials fear that the mole who was extracted from Moscow may still be under threat in the United States.
Those fears appear well-founded after another former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, was poisoned in Britain in March last year.
Two Russian assassins smeared the nerve agent Novichok on Skripal’s front door in Salisbury after flying over from Moscow, UK authorities say.
Sergei and his daughter Yulia Skripal were taken seriously ill but both survived.
However, another woman died after she was accidentally exposed to the Soviet-era nerve agent.
Britain accused the Kremlin and its GRU intelligence chiefs of ordering the attack, sparking a wave of diplomatic expulsions.
UK police identified two men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, as the hit-men and the government said Putin was ‘ultimately responsible’ for the poisonings.
But Russia’s government has denied all involvement and the two men claimed in a bizarre interview that they were only there to see Salisbury’s cathedral.
Skripal was a Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Britain.
He was imprisoned in Russia and released as part of a spy swap with the West, which took place in Vienna in 2010.
His current whereabouts are unknown.
In 2006 another former Russian agent, Alexander Litvinenko, was killed by a radioactive poison at a London hotel.
A public inquiry concluded that he had been murdered by Russian intelligence, likely with the approval of President Vladimir Putin.
Similarly, Britain named two suspects but the Kremlin denied everything.
Agafonov called his former wife ‘a spoiled and greedy person.
‘I think she wanted money, comfort and luxury,’ he said.
He said that Antonina barred him from seeing his son, now believed to be 15.
Soon after they split ‘she told for the first time that she would deprive me of my parental rights, and my son would call Smolenkov ‘dad’.’
He was in touch with his son until the family vanished in 2017 after a summer holiday to Montenegro.
His messages to the boy, including when he was in Montenegro, before travelling to America, drew the attention of the Russian security services when they were seeking to establish what had happened to Smolenkov.
‘I wrote to him, like, when you come back, I’ll see you and we can take a walk, but he did not answer the usual ways. He replied something like, ‘well, maybe’.’
Agafonov said he was interrogated over the family’s disappearance but knew nothing.
He was told they were alive but no details of where they were.
He has accused them of taking the boy to the U.S. without his permission.
‘In 2009 she, frankly, abducted the child, made meetings difficult, tried to deprive me of my parental rights illegally AND did not allow me to see [him] despite a court decision made in 2014,’ he said.
‘In 2017 she deceived me and got my consent to allow the child to go to Montenegro for a vacation.’
But she did not mention that the boy would not return to Russia.
‘She took the child to the United States, where she is still hiding fraudulently.’
He has been unable to contact his son since then, he said. He launched a criminal law suit to find his son, which is still ongoing.
Interfax cited a source familiar with the situation on Friday as saying that Smolenkov’s vacation in Montenegro flouted rules at the time that banned Russian officials from visiting the Balkan country.
‘Soon after Smolenkov’s disappearance in June 2017, the relevant law enforcement agencies started an investigation which showed that the officials who allowed an employee of the presidential administration and his family to holiday in Montenegro had violated the (travel) ban,’ the source was cited as saying.
The ban was introduced in the spring of that year due to heightened tensions between Russia and Montenegro over an alleged failed Moscow-backed coup in 2016, the same source said. Russia denied any involvement in the alleged coup.
‘The actions of those responsible was categorized as reckless and lax control. Some of them (the officials) were punished, including being fired.’