Russian 'agent' arrested in United States to undermine Putin-Trump summit: Moscow

Russian 'agent' arrested in United States to undermine Putin-Trump summit: Moscow

Maria Butina, the ginger-fringed Russian grad student charged with acting as a foreign agent in the U.S. this week, was compared by her handler to another famous undercover femme fatale - Anna Chapman, the sultry spook busted for spying in NY in 2010, federal prosecutors allege.

If the United States was really anxious about what Butina was doing then it could have been passed on to Russian Federation to investigate or been discussed on the sidelines of the summit.

She also had contact information for people who investigators believe were employees of Russia's Federal Security Services, or FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB.

Two days after her arrest for allegedly acting as "an agent of a foreign government", Russian national Mariia Butina was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington DC on similar charges.

Prosecutors detailed extensive private Twitter conversations and other discussions between Butina and a senior Russian official about her activities in the United States.

The gun rights organization is nearly certainly the National Rifle Association, whom Butina began reaching out to in 2013 and meeting with both in the USA and Russian Federation.

It is not known from the filing what job Butina was seeking or whether her offer of sex in exchange for the job was accepted, however.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents served a search warrant on Butina's residence in April, her lawyer, Robert Neil Driscoll, said in court Monday, and he insisted that Butina "has been offering to cooperate with the government the entire time".

Butina entered the country on a student visa in August 2016, and her lawyer said Monday that she had recently earned a master's degree from American University in worldwide relations.

Judge orders accused Russian agent Maria Butina jailed pending trial
Judge orders accused Russian agent Maria Butina jailed pending trial

GOP operative Paul Erickson, identified in the indictment only as "U.S. Person 1", allegedly helped the duo connect with influential conservatives involved with the NRA, National Prayer Breakfast, and 2016 Republican presidential campaigns, according to the indictment.

In March 2017, following news coverage of Butina, the Russian official wrote, "Are your admirers asking for your autographs yet?"

Torshin, who became an NRA life member in 2012, was among a group of Russian oligarchs and officials targeted in April by Treasury Department sanctions for their associations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and their roles in "advancing Russia's malign activities". He and the Russians sought to use the imprimatur of the NRA in order to meet USA political leaders and Trump, citing a "back channel" he had forged with the Kremlin.

Butina was charged with one count of engaging in conspiracy against the USA and another of failing to register as an agent of Russian Federation.

The NRA has so far made no comment this week about the Butina charges or the Torshin connection.

Butina's Facebook page includes numerous pictures of her and Torshin, as well as photos of her attending other events where she met well-known American politicians, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

If convicted, Butina could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the charge of acting as an agent of the Russian government, and a maximum of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge.

Court papers do not name the individual or the special interest group.

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