DOJ Charges Russian National Maria Butina With Acting As Foreign Agent

Federal authorities have arrested a Russian woman accused of conspiring to infiltrate American political organizations, including a gun-rights group, at the direction of a senior Kremlin official. She reportedly has been an advocate of gun rights in Russian Federation and was a "special guest" at an NRA meeting in 2014.

Alexander Torshin, the head of Russia's central bank, and Butima met with Donald Trump, Jr.at the NRA's 2016 convention.

In a sworn statement unsealed on Monday, FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson said her assignment was to "exploit personal connections with U.S. persons having influence in American politics in an effort to advance the interests of the Russian Federation".

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Butina and Torshin both ran The Right To Bear Arms, a group that fashioned itself as a Russian version of the NRA and supported handgun legalization in their home country. Prosecutors also note that the official has since been sanctioned by the U.S.

She arranged dinners in Washington and New York City and tried to develop relationships with American politicians in order to establish "back channel" lines of communication to "penetrate the USA national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation", the complaint said. "To me this seems like part and parcel of an influence operation".

In an email sent in March 2015, Butina explained that Republicans would likely obtain control over the U.S. government after the 2016 election and said the NRA plays a significant role in the party as it is the largest sponsor of elections to the U.S. Congress.

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The National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice are prosecuting the case.

Read the full affidavit below.

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