Russian national Mariia Butina was arrested, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on July 16 adding that she is charged with conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government.
Butina was arrested on July 15. The DOJ said that she was developing ties with US citizens and infiltrating political groups.
“According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank. This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.
The court filings detail the Russian official’s and Butina’s efforts for Butina to act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation. The filings also describe certain actions taken by Butina to further this effort during multiple visits from Russia and, later, when she entered and resided in the United States on a student visa. The filings allege that she undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law,” the DOJ said in a statement.
According to NPR, FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson stated that one of Butina’s goal was to “exploit personal connections with US person having influence in American politics in an effort to advance the interests of the Russian Federation.” NPR added that one of her contacts was with an “organization promoting gun rights.”
Bloomberg said that Butina served as a special assistant to the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, Alexander Torshin. Butina and Torshin are lifetime members of the US National Rifle Association (NRA).
A next hearing of the Butina case is scheduled for July 18.