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Maria Butina
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    (November 10, 1988- )
    Born in Barnaul, Russia
    Founded the Russian gun rights organization Right to Bear Arms (2011)
    Hired as ‘special assistant’ to Aleksandr Torshin, a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia and member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party
    Pled guilty to felony charges of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent of the Russian government (December 13, 2018)
    Sentenced to 18 months in prison (April 26, 2019)
    Right to Bear Arms was used less to influence Russian gun laws than to infiltrate the National Rifle Association.
    She was part of the Russian effort to influence the 2016 Presidential election.
    While a graduate student at American University, she twice got drunk and started boasting about her connections with the Russian government to other students (who reported her to law enforcement).
    She failed to live up to the initial media hype portraying her as another Mata Hari (or even as another Anna Chapman).
    She built a successful furniture business in her hometown.
    When she moved to Moscow, she sold the furniture stores and opened an ad agency.
    Her activities would have been legal if she had registered as a foreign lobbyist.
    The Justice Department’s sentencing memorandum conceded that she was ‘not a spy in the traditional sense.’
    Prosecutors admitted that early claims that she had offered to have sex with a man in exchange for a position in a special interest group were the result of faulty translations of her Russian text messages.
    A former CIA station chief said, ‘She had no idea where she fit in Vladimir Putin’s chess game. She’s just a pawn.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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