The Russian activist faces five years in prison. The lawyer believes that the US authorities misinterpreted the reports, tweets and official visits.
July 15 in Washington, arrested 29-year-old citizen of Russia and head of the public organization “The right to arms” Maria Butina. The next day she was accused of illegal work by a foreign agent in the interests of Russia. She is arrested and awaits the court hearings scheduled for July 18.
Who is Butina
Butina was born on November 10, 1988 in Barnaul, studied at local schools and graduated with honors from the Altai State University in 2010 with a degree in Political Science. She also has a second red diploma of a teacher. Mother is an engineer, father is a furniture manufacturer, who in the 1990s sold pantyhose. While still a student, Butina participated in debates and political campaigns (for example, from “Fair Russia”), becoming the youngest member of the Public Chamber. Among those who supported it during the nomination, was the politician Alexei Navalny.
After the diploma Butina launched a network of furniture stores “Home coziness” in the Altai villages. As GQ wrote , after moving to Moscow in 2012, the girl realized that to develop the provincial business is not an option, she sold six of the seven outlets and opened an advertising agency in the capital. Just the advertising agency began to bring Butina’s main income and was in the office of the organization “Rights to arms”, according to which the girl is primarily known.
Over time, the cases of “Rights” went uphill: branches appeared all over the country, and the initiative on self-defense on the territory of the house gained 100 thousand verified votes (but it did not come true). Butina almost did not get into conflicts. In a blog on Snob, she wrote that she “participated in scandals involving the catching ofAmerican agents and the agential implementation of Navalny” – in both cases there were unconfirmed reports from Russian media.
As a Russian activist is associated with the deputy head of the Central Bank
Butina, as head of the “Rights to Arms”, received support from a variety of personalities and political forces – from the LDPR with Vladimir Zhirinovsky and members of United Russia to actor Ivan Okhlobystin, former Minister of Economy Andrei Nechaev and then Deputy Head of the Federation Council Alexander Torshin . It is the latter that journalists call “the main state ideologist of the legalization of short-barreled” and a possible participant in the “collusion” with the activist.
According to the Ministry of Justice, Butina became a Russian “agent” as early as 2015. In August 2016, she came to the United States on a student visa for admission to a university in Washington. The girl finished her studies in May 2018.
According to the accusations, at least until February 2017, the activist worked in the interests of the “Russian high-ranking official,” whose name is not named. Nevertheless, under the description of this person (previously was in the legislative branch, then moved to the Central Bank and was under US sanctions), the current deputy chairman of the Central Bank Alexander Torshin. The same version was followed by the American media.
Torshin tried to build relations between the Kremlin and the American conservatives, Time wrote . He was considered the patron of Butina, and CNN called her “special assistant” deputy chairman of the Central Bank. In addition, he is a member of the National Rifle Association of the United States.
The former senator specially brought members of the association to Moscow and acquainted them with the achievements of the “Rights to Arms”. According toBloomberg, thus, the Russian tried to strengthen ties with Donald Trump’s family. Butina also did not hide close cooperation with the NSA.
How Butina is associated with Trump
Together Torshin and Butina traveled a lot in the United States in 2015-2016, at the height of the presidential campaign. They also appeared at the events of the shooting association, which is connected with the Republican Party.
In June 2015, the US edition of the National Interest published an activist’s report that the Republican president would lead to improved relations between the US and Russia – and a few days later announced the nomination of Trump.
Butina at least twice officially met with Trump. The first time – in Las Vegas in July 2015. At one of the first meetings of the presidential campaign, the activist asked the Republican to lift the sanctions if he won. Trump said that he “knows” Putin and is ready to get along with him, while Russia does not need sanctions.
Torshin compiled a list of the Russian delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast on February 4, 2017. A traditional event, organized annually by congressmen and Protestant communities, also visited Butina. There the US president came. The media reported about a possible personal meeting of Torshin with Trump during this trip, but this data was not confirmed .
After breakfast, Butina wrote a big post in Facebook that Russia “must take a step towards it and show that it is ready to cooperate with Trump.” According to the documents of the US Justice Department, in March 2016, the activist discussed her participation in breakfast, communicating with unnamed American citizens. In correspondence with one of them, the girl noted that the Russian official (presumably, Torshin) had confirmed the desire to launch a “Russian-American project”.
Presumably, Torshin told Butina about the approval of “this channel of communication by the representative of the Kremlin.” “All we need is a” yes “from Putin. The rest is simpler, “the words of the Russian official in the materials of the US authorities are quoted.
How Butina “worked as an agent” on Russia – FBI version
The materials of the US Justice Department include fragments of correspondence between Butina with two unspecified American faces and a Russian official, presumably Torshin. The activist allegedly corresponded with the deputy head of the Central Bank not only through e-mail, but also through private messages on Twitter. One of the Americans is probably the Republican consultant and co-owner (with Butina) of Brigdes LLC Paul Erickson.
“Second Posner”. In March 2015, Butina wrote to the American about the project with this name, translating the letter through Google Translate: “I could translate everything myself, but it would take at least a day because of the specifics of the text.” The document asked which party (it was not called) will begin to monitor the White House after the elections. It was alleged that even though the party conducts an aggressive policy toward Russia, there is a chance to build “constructive relations”.
However, now with the right to negotiate it seems best to build konstruktivnyh relations […]
The FBI agent made a note on the margins of the Justice Ministry’s document that he meant “the propagandist Posner, who served in the Soviet KGB’s disinformation department and appeared on Western television to talk about the views of the USSR during the Cold War.”
Dinner as a communication channel. Butina wrote to the Americans, talking about the need to organize a “friendly” dinner in October 2016. In the correspondence two months before the presidential elections, she noted that it was “time” to create a team of advisors on the Russian theme for the new head of state. The American replied to the Russian that he “used a very private channel of communication with the Kremlin and the key members of the [unnamed American] party.” The FBI agent, on the basis of his experience, concluded that in this way they tried to form a spare communication channel for the Russian authorities.
Observation of the US presidential election. Presumably Torshin discussed with Butina the possibility of her gratuitous work on the day of voting. However, the interlocutors eventually decided that “the risk is very high, like the HYIP, which will follow in the media.” Butina agreed with this opinion: “Only incognito. Right now, you have to be quiet and careful. “
Results of elections. From November 8 to 9, 2016, Butina discussed with the “Torshin” in personal correspondence on Twitter the results of the presidential elections in the United States. It allegedly has a reference to direct “instructions”.
Butina: I’m going to sleep, it’s already three in the morning. I’m ready for further orders.
Torshin: Think about what areas of life we can now be closer to the United States. “Islamic state” – it is clear, what else should we pay attention to?
As noted in the materials of the Ministry of Justice, after “speculation” on the topic of the next US Secretary of State, Butina suggested to talk on the phone. “Torshin” approved this idea, but was worried: “All our phones are bugged.” Then Butina offered to correspond in WhatsApp.
How is Butina’s case progressing
On July 18, hearings will be held in the Butina case, which is accused of criminal conspiracy to work as a foreign agent. According to the US authorities, the activist had previously conspired with Torshin to promote the interests of Russia. “Foreign agents” can legally work in the States, but Butina was not registered as such.
The maximum punishment, which threatens Butina, is five years of imprisonment . The Washington Post indicated that the FBI investigated this case separately from materials about alleged interference by Russia in the US elections.
Butina’s lawyer Robert Driscoll denies the accusations of her work as an agent and claims that his client has been cooperating with government agencies for several months on the case of her “contacts”. In his opinion, the US authorities misinterpreted, including the visit to the Russian prayer breakfast, which she supposedly needed for her to establish ties among Americans.
“The maximum that she tried to do is to promote better relations between the two countries. The indictment is simply an abuse of the law on foreign agents, ” said thelawyer.