Putin added that the "only thing" he was able to find out about Butina in the course of his investigation was that "she worked for one of the assistants" at Russia's Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, roughly equivalent to the U.S. Senate.
Although this matter deals with alleged Russian efforts to influence American politics, the cases against Butina and Erickson are separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
The Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. objected to the treatment of Butina and accused the US of torturing her to force an agreement to testify.
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Butina has previously been described by area businessman John Yenason as a friend, one of two Russians whom he sought to link with Donald Trump's 2016 campaign team in the spirit of fellowship, following a prayer meeting in their country two years ago. But this information suggests that the plan, at least from Butina's perspective, went deeper than Trump. Before the United States. group arrived, she stressed to Torshin the importance of setting up meetings with top Russian politicians.
Butina, who was arrested in July and has been in custody since, was charged with conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Russian Federation. Neither Erickson nor Torshin has been accused of wrongdoing.
It is unclear when she caught the attention of USA authorities, but she was arrested in July when she was deemed a flight risk.
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Butina was accused of working to push the Kremlin's agenda by forming bonds with National Rifle Association officials and other conservative leaders and making outreach to 2016 presidential candidates.
Maria Butina in Moscow.
Previously a student at the American University in Washington, Butina is a founder of the pro-gun Russian advocacy group Right to Bear Arms. The new plea likely means that she has made a deal with prosecutors. "A wealthy and well-connected USA person", who received assistance from Butina, helped organize the dinners, the plea agreement says. "I don't think you'd need the sanctions".
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In the "Diplomacy Project", Butina suggested using unofficial channels to influence US foreign policy because the USA government had grown too unwilling to compromise. I immediately asked all the chiefs of our intelligence services who she was? They twice hosted NRA members in Moscow, including during a December 2015 visit when Torshin arranged for a group of NRA dignitaries to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.