Butina Admits To Being Russian Agent

Pleads Guilty in U.S. To Conspiracy
Butina Admits To Being Russian Agent
14 December 09:50 2018 Print This Article

A Russian woman pleaded guilty in a U.S. court  and admitted to working with a top Russian official to infiltrate a powerful gun rights group and make inroads with American conservative activists and the Republican Party as an agent for Moscow.

Maria Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington who publicly advocated for gun rights, entered the plea to a charge of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent at a hearing in Washington. She became the first Russian to be convicted of working to influence U.S. policy during the 2016 presidential race and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Butina admitted to conspiring with a Russian official and two Americans from 2015 until her July arrest to infiltrate the National Rifle Association, a group closely aligned with U.S. conservatives and Republican politicians including President Donald Trump, and create unofficial lines of communication to try to make Washington’s policy toward Moscow more friendly.

Alexander Torshin, who was a deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank, has been identified by Butina’s lawyers as the Russian official. Torshin was hit with U.S. Treasury Department sanctions in April. Paul Erickson, a conservative U.S. political activist with deep Republican ties who was romantically linked to Butina, was one of the two Americans to whom prosecutors referred.

Butina, a 30-year-old native of Siberia, agreed to cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly”.

Butina replied “absolutely” when asked by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan if her mind was clear as she prepared to plead guilty.

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