The paper named the turncoat as "Col. Scherbakov," former head of the American Desk of the SVR's Directorate S, which conducts clandestine operations abroad. The defector is presumably living somewhere in the US today, under the protection of American authorities.
"We know who he is and where he is. Don't doubt that a Mercader has already been sent after him," the unidentified Kremlin official told Kommersant Friday, referring to Ramón Mercader, the Soviet agent who murdered renegade Bolshevik Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. "The fate of such a person is unenviable ... living every day in fear of retribution."
The SVR – Russia's equivalent of the CIA – had no comment on the Kommersant story, or the reported death threat, on Friday.
Both the Kremlin and the SVR were humiliated by the US roundup of Russian secret agents, which was followed by a cold war-style spy swap in which the Russians were exchanged for four people convicted of espionage and held in Russian prisons.
All of the 10 returned Russian agents were decorated for heroism at a Kremlin ceremony last month.