Published: Wed, July 18, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Accused Russian agent used sex and deception to gain influence, prosecutors say

Accused Russian agent used sex and deception to gain influence, prosecutors say

Prosecutors also said Butina was regarded as a covert agent by a Russian official with whom she was in touch, with text messages discovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showing how the official likened her to Anna Chapman, a Russian woman who was arrested in 2010 and then deported as part of a prisoner swap.

Butina engaged in all of this activity between 2015 and 2017 without ever informing the U.S. Attorney General that "she would and did act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government", according to the indictment.

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.

Butina is accused of attempting to influence American politics by infiltrating groups such as the National Rifle Association. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!

Maria Butina was arrested in Washington on Sunday and appeared in court in the U.S. capital on Monday, the Justice Department said in a statement.

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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 global relations.

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.

Butina allegedly spent years forging connections with top conservative officials, including many associated with a "gun rights organization", "for the goal of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation", according to the indictment.

Butina is scheduled to appear in federal district court in D.C. for preliminary hearings on Wednesday starting at 1:30 p.m. "I believe these messages", Helson wrote, "are the Russian Official relaying the Russian Federation's instructions to its agent, Butina".

Through her connections, she twice tried to arrange meetings between Trump and Putin on behalf of Torshin during the 2016 United States presidential election, according to a New York Times report.

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A federal grand jury indictment returned on Tuesday accuses Butina of partaking in a Kremlin-directed plot to ingratiate herself with US political figures in order to convince them to pursue Russian interests. Torshin was placed under sanction by the United States in April this year.

In the email, Butina asked the unnamed Russian official for $125,000 to participate in "all upcoming major conferences" of "Political Party 1".

Authorities have not named the Russian official, but details in the court papers match the description of Alexander Torshin, a former legislator who is now a senior official in the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.

In emails, Butina discussed plans to establish "back channel" lines of communication between the Russian government and American politicians.

"For example, on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than US Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization", it continued. The organization did not respond to HuffPost's request for comment. She got a student visa and enrolled at American University in 2016.

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