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Accused Russian agent pleads guilty to conspiracy

Accused Russian agent pleads guilty to conspiracy

Western media, however, has nearly ubiquitously identified Butina as an alleged spy. Prosecutors have not claimed in court, in filings or elsewhere that Butina spied, nor has the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its affidavits.

As part of the plea agreement, she is expected to cooperate with prosecutors during an ongoing investigation, according to USA media reports.

Nevertheless, with a guilty plea, Butina became the first Russian citizen to be convicted of working to shape USA policy in the time period spanning the 2016 election campaign. Al Jazeera just called her a "Russian spy".

Those parties included Russian businessmen or Foreign Ministry officials, they said.

The allegations against Butina fall under neither of those categories.

When asked by a judge whether the charges read by prosecutors were correct, Butina responded: "Yes".

Others aren't so sure this is your traditional case of espionage and you can count Russian Federation security serves expert Mark Galeotti in that category.

There are Facebook photos showing her posing for pictures with the NRA.

By 2016 she had a student visa to study for a Master's degree at American University in Washington DC. Prosecutors even wrote that "all available evidence indicates that Butina had interest in a graduate school education".

Maria Butina also sought to connect Moscow unofficially with other parts of the conservative establishment, including the National Rifle Association and the National Prayer Breakfast. Prosecutors say Butina's work was directed by a former Russian lawmaker.

Robert Driscoll Maria Butina’s attorney leaves U.S. District Court in Washington Thursday Dec. 13 2018. Maria Butina a Russian accused of being a secret agent for the Russian government has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in federal court
Accused Russian agent pleads guilty to conspiracy

Nonetheless, many news outlets, such as USA Today and Raw Story, have claimed that she worked on "behalf of the Kremlin".

Russia has very strict gun control laws-much stricter than the United States-and Butina has been heavily involved in a group called Right to Bear Arms, which was founded in 2012 and considers itself a Russian equivalent of the NRA.

Torshin was a Russian government official who is reportedly retiring from his latest role as a deputy governor of the central bank.

Born in the southern Siberian city of Barnaul in 1988, according to her Facebook page, she has enjoyed using weapons ever since she was a child, picking up a gun for the first time at the age of 10.

After the meeting ended, Butina sent Torshin a message: "We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later". As part of the plea agreement with the government, prosecutors dropped the other count in the indictment originally brought against her, and agreed not to prosecute her for any other crimes they were made aware of during their plea discussions.

Less frequently cited exchanges include ones about Christmas presents for Torshin's children and buying toothpaste in the US.

"To me, this is nothing to do with espionage as we think of it", Galeotti told VICE News.

Pushing her travel to the US and her work with the NRA as selling points, Butina argued that she had already "laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next USA administration". Prosecutors did not agree on any guidelines range, but agreed to request leniency if she provides "substantial assistance".

Butina's work with her compatriots, meanwhile, continued. The project would have her meeting with GOP presidential candidates and NRA leaders in the United States.




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