A former Russian spy suspected of helping create a dossier of salacious claims linking the country to US President Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin, media reports said.
Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and later its successor, the FSB, is rumoured to have helped former British intelligence official Christopher Steele create the explosive - and unsubstantiated - report that alleged Moscow holds deeply compromising information on Trump.
It was published by some American media outlets in early January, provoking a firestorm in the US.
The Telegraph reported Erovinkin was found dead in the back seat of his car in mysterious circumstances on December 26. Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus“ and a “large-scale investigation has been commenced”.
Authorities said Erovinkin had problems with his heart, but there has been speculation the death was linked to Steele’s dossier. Some Russian media outlets suggested the death was the result of foul play.
Erovinkin was close to former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, who was mentioned several times in Steele’s report. He is said to have been an important link between Sechin and Russian President Vladimir Putin and the source behind key information in the dossier about the Kremlin.
Sechin heads Russia’s state-run Rosneft oil company and Erovinkin was his chief of staff. Erovinkin was appointed to the post by Putin in 2008.
The Telegraph report suggested Erovinkin may have been killed by the Kremlin.
Steele’s report alleged Russia had gathered compromising information on Trump, including videos involving prostitutes at a luxury Moscow hotel during a 2013 visit, supposedly as a potential means for blackmail. Putin and Trump rubbished these claims.
Steele has been in hiding since he was unmasked as the author of the Trump dossier.