The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

Passed her boss: what else did Maria Butina admit

Russian woman Maria Butina acknowledged on Wednesday in court that her actions were part of a conspiracy to establish informal contacts with Americans who could influence US policy.

Photo: mariabutinafund.ru

At disposal with the BBC There is a document that signed Butina. It describes in some detail its activities in the United States.

In essence, Butina agreed with the version of the accusation that she was trying to establish a network of contacts at the National Shooting Association of the USA (NSA). It is believed that this organization can have a significant impact on policy in North America.

The girl also said she was ready to talk about a US citizen, with whom she entered into a conspiracy to establish contacts in local political circles, and about a Russian official who, according to Butina, led her actions.

By this official, I mean Alexander Torshin, who recently left the post of deputy chairman of the Bank of Russia, whose assistant was Butina for several years.

The American in question is South Dakota GOP activist Paul Erickson.

Russian woman arrested in Washington in July this year. She is accused of working as a foreign agent without registration in order to promote Russia's interests in the United States.

Part one. Butina’s plan

According to Butina's confession, in March 2015 she wrote a draft “Description of Diplomacy”.

The document said that the official methods of communication with politicians in the United States work inefficiently, therefore, it is necessary to build informal channels of communication, primarily with the Republican Party.

Maria offered herself as a person who can make such contacts.

Butyna also suggested that Donald Trump would win in the US 2016 presidential election of the year.

There is a funny detail in the testimony. Butina notes that she wrote the “Description of Diplomacy” in Russian, then translated it using the free online service Google translate and sent it to Erickson to ask for advice.

According to Butina’s confessions, Erickson acted as an expert and helped determine the circle of influential politicians who are worth going to.

Then Butina, according to her, sent a "Description of Diplomacy" to Torshin and asked for $ 125 to participate in various conferences and organize meetings with the right people. Torshin assured the girl that her proposal would be supported “at least in part”.

From 2012 to 2015, Maria Butina worked as an assistant to Alexander Torshin, who was then the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council of Russia.

Immediately after his arrest with Butinoy, Alexander Torshin, who had already worked at the Central Bank for a long time, went on leave, and then on sick leave, and did not appear at work until the end of autumn, a BBC source close to the Central Bank said. 30 November became aware of his resignation.

Even as a senator, Torshin was known as an active supporter of the legalization of combat short-barreled (so-called pocket) weapons. Torshin is an honorary member of the Russian NGO Right to Arms, which Butina founded, and a lifelong member of the US National Rifle Association (NRA).

Torshin’s passion for weapons-related topics has been actively discussed in the context of the alleged interference of the Russian authorities in the American elections.

Part two. From words to deeds

Implementing her plan, Butina went to the NSA conference in April 2015 and told her about her work to promote the use of small arms in Russia. She also invited influential representatives of the NSA to Moscow.

This visit took place in December 2015. According to Butina’s testimony, Torshin organized a meeting of representatives of the NSA with high-ranking politicians in Moscow.

Butina admitted that she participated in several dinners with the participation of the "American with great connections." During such meetings, she learned about how influential people in the United States feel about building relations with Moscow, and also promoted her proposals and interests.

According to Butina’s testimony, Erickson helped her by preparing her for these meetings and collecting information about those who would be invited to dinner.

In 2017, Butina, as noted in the document, helped a “Russian official” - behind this designation Torshin is hiding - to organize a trip for a Russian delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in 2017.

This annual event has been attended by presidents of the United States for more than half a century.

Photo: MARIA BUTINA / FACEBOOK

According to the indictment, Torshin gave Butin’s direct instructions on whom to include in the delegation, and she acted on his instructions.

Then Butina sent the list of invitees to Erickson by e-mail, noting that the people were personally selected by Torshin and she, and that they would come to build an "unofficial channel of communication."

Erickson later emailed the list to another person, writing that “the reaction to the [Russian] delegation's arrival in America will be communicated DIRECTLY to the Russian president and foreign minister” (spelling preserved).

According to Butina's testimony, the delegation at the Prayer Breakfast included 16 people, including Torshin, State Duma deputies, as well as political scientist Andrei Kolyadin, then the head of the city of Yakutsk Aisen Nikolaev, executive director of the Synergy University Vadim Lobov, as well as members of public organizations.

It is known that at the Prayer Breakfast, the head of the Duma Budget Committee, Andrei Makarov, met with Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacker.

Rohrabaker, who was called "Putin's favorite congressman" in the media, lost his seat in the Capitol in the November 6, 2018 elections.

At the same time, Kolyadin told the BBC that he had no relation to his trip to Butin's prayer breakfast.

Part Three Consultation

In addition to organizing meetings, Butina told Torshin what she did in the United States and how she studies the country's political landscape before the 2016 elections of the year.

She answered his questions and reported on the work done on her own initiative, it follows from the documents on her case. Butina also consulted with Torshin with whom she would meet in the USA.

She found out from him whether Russian officials were ready to meet with certain people in America, and asked what to do with contacts that had already been established. With whom it was Butina, who managed to build connections, it is not specified in the documents.

At the same time, Butina was worried that after the elections in the United States, both about her and Torshin would be forgotten.

In her testimony, Maria noted that, as far as she knows, Torshin acts in consultation with the Russian Foreign Ministry and her bosses at the Central Bank.

For example, in May 2016, Torshin asked Butina to write him an explanation of why he should go to the United States for the annual meeting of the Right to Arms organization, which Butina led in Russia. She replied that this would allow him to meet with American politicians.

At the same time, Butina, according to her testimony, knew that Torshin would transmit this information to the Foreign Ministry and the Central Bank leadership.

Later in November, answering Butina's question about how to build a dialogue with Trump's advisers, Torshin told her that the Foreign Ministry "is unlikely to do this."

Speaking before a court in the United States, Butina admitted that she had such dialogues with Torshin.

In exchange for a deal with the investigation, Butina can get better conditions of detention and a reduced sentence. In a document received by the BBC, it is said that "with a high degree of probability" soon after pleading guilty, Butina may be extradited from the United States to Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that it considers the case of Butina to be fabricated.

“This unfortunate girl is sitting there, our Butina, she faces 15 years in prison, for what? When I heard that something was happening around her, we had a public event, and I had nothing to hide, first I asked all the heads of our special services, who was she? Nobody knows anything about her at all. The only thing that someone knows something about her is that in the Federation Council, she worked for one of the deputies, or something, that's all. She may be appointed 15 years for this, what is this anyway? ”Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Delo Butina

Formally, the case of Maria Butina has nothing to do with the investigation of Special Prosecutor Robert Muller about Russia's attempt to intervene in the US presidential election in 2016.

However, Butina may become the first Russian woman convicted on charges related to attempts to influence American politics in the pre-election period.

According to US media reports, the FBI has been following the girl since at least 2016.

In developing the girl, US intelligence agencies conducted several searches at her home, as well as checked the contents of the laptop and iPhone. As a result, the FBI discovered signs that during her business trip to the US, Butina maintained contacts with officials, who apparently were Russian intelligence agents.

In particular, she had a list of contacts of persons working in the FSB. For example, her electronic contact list reportedly contained an email account from a domain that is associated with the FSB. What kind of account is not specified.

FBI surveillance saw Butina in the company of a Russian diplomat in the weeks leading up to his departure from the United States in March this year. The FBI suspects that the diplomat “with whom Butina shared private meals” was a member of Russian intelligence.

Russian woman was arrested in July of this year.

The judge refused to release Butina on bail, and the girl was in solitary confinement in a Washington prison. According to unofficial data, she is taken out of her cell for two hours a day, most often at night.

In prison, Butinu was regularly visited by Russian diplomats, whose unusual concern for her was used by the prosecutor's office as another proof of the girl’s guilt.

In September, prosecutors sent a petition to the judge, in which they pointedly noted that at that time the Russian government had made six consular visits to Butina and sent four diplomatic notes on her case to the State Department.

According to prosecutors, over the past month Russia has sent more diplomatic notes in defense of the accused than about any other Russian citizen arrested in the United States over the past year.

Contrary to popular belief, Butina was charged with violating not the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), for which she would face up to 5 years in prison, but 951 of the federal criminal code, for which the court could sentence her to 10 years.

FARA - a law passed in 1938 punishes interference in American political life by individuals and organizations acting in the interests of a foreign power without prior registration with the Department of Justice.

Article 951 was adopted in 1948 and is similar in its wording to FARA, but here they are even broader - the article talks about any activity in the interests of a foreign power and without registration in the United States, and not just about interference in a narrowly understood political process. The maximum punishment is also tougher - up to 10 years.

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