1988: Maria Butina is born in the Siberian city of Barnaul.
2010: She graduates from Altai State University in her home town.
August, 2011: The socio-political organization Right to Bear Arms (Pravo na oruzhie) is founded. Butina is listed as the its founder and chairwoman. She moves to Moscow.
2011: Aleksandr Torshin, then either First Deputy Chairman or Acting Chairman of the Federation Council, begins his association with Right to Bear Arms and Butina. Billionaire Konstantin Nikolayev begins his financial support for Butina and Right to Bear Arms, which will continue through 2016.
2011-2013: Right to Bear Arms initiates contact with the National Rifle Association.
2013: Butina meets Paul Erickson, a lawyer and activist for the Republican Party and conservative causes as well as a ranking member of the NRA.
January 2015: Butina resigns as chairwoman of Right to Bear Arms.
April 2015: Acting as Torshin’s aide and interpreter, Butina visits the United States. During the visit, Butina accompanies Torshin in meetings with representatives of the Federal Reserve and Treasury department.
2016-2018: Butina lives in the United States on a student visa, enrolled in the master’s program in International Relations at American University in Washington.
February 2017: Butina joins the official Russian delegation in attending the National Prayer Breakfast, a reception led by President Trump. After the event, the Russian state-owned media outlet TASS publishes an interview with Butina about how it went.
March 2018: Right to Bear Arms is disbanded by court order for violations of the Law on Public Associations.
July 16, 2018: Justice Department announces Butina’s arrest, accusing her of working as an unregistered agent of a foreign country and illegal lobbying.December 13, 2018: Butina pleads guilty to both charges,publicly confessing that she was part of a conspiracy to establish contacts between the Russian government and Americans who could influence US policy. She said that Torshin, who had retired from the Federation Council on November 30 at age 65, was directing her from Moscow, and that Erickson had helped her to enter US political circles.
A Few Questions about Maria Butina’s Activities and Her Arrest
Question 1: How could a young woman from the sticks end up in America, networking with all of these people in the NRA?
In August 2011, a Russian copy of the NRA suddenly appeared on the scene. Right to Bear arms was allegedly founded by 23-year-old Maria Butina, who became the organization’s leader.
If you understand how things work in Russia, you can’t possibly believe that was the case. Founding any political organization in Russia, let alone a political organization related to weapons, is impossible without the Kremlin’s go ahead. Only the state security agencies could found and arrange financing for that kind of organization.
So, our answer to the first question is obvious: Butina was acting with the direct organizational and financial support of Russian state security and intelligence agencies.
A Logical Supposition:
Given the current state of Russian security agencies and the frequent breakdowns of their more direct operations in the US and UK, it is likely that similar clone organizations have been founded in the Russian Federation for the purpose of making contact with sister organizations in foreign countries.
Question 2: Whose interests was Butina representing in the US?
Butina’s official cover was that she was a representative of Right to Bear Arms. This organization was founded, financed and operated under the complete control of Russian security agencies. Therefore, the answer to this question is also obvious: Butina was acting as a Russian intelligence agent in the US.
Clear proof that Butina was held in unusually high regard is that TASS published an interview with Butina in 2017 concerning the official Russian delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast with President Trump. In Russia, such interviews are only held with ranking officials, not personal assistants or foreign-exchange students, and definitely not with the leaders of unsanctioned political movements.
Question 3: (Only the Justice Department can answer this one) Why wasn’t Butina charged with espionage?
The interesting thing about the Butina story is how Russian security agencies set up a tunnel into the NRA. Butina herself isn’t terribly interesting. In Russia there are thousands of girls like her from the middle of nowhere, ready to do anything to break into the high life. Tragically, their stories very often end in a Turkish bordello. This time it ended in an American prison.