Russian Tied To NRA Charged With 'Infiltrating' US Political Organizations

Maria Butina at a rally in Moscow in 2013

Maria Butina was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian federation within the USA without prior notification to the attorney general.

Maria Butina had developed close ties with the Republican party and had become an advocate for gun rights, according to USA media reports.

A Washington-based pro-gun activist affiliated with the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been charged with spying in the United States for Russian Federation.

She has previously denied having worked for the Russian government.

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The announcement of her arrest came hours after US President Donald Trump met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in closed-door talks in the Finnish capital Helsinki on Monday. The official, whose name was not released, was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April. "To me this seems like part and parcel of an influence operation".

According to prosecutors, Butina met an American political operative in Moscow in 2013, after which the operative worked with her to arrange introductions to Americans with influence in USA politics, including the gun rights organization NRA.

Emails obtained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that Butina, Erickson, and Torshin-who is not named in the filing but matches the description of "the Russian official"-corresponded regularly about how to "plan and develop the contours of the influence operation". The trio recognized the importance of the NRA in shaping conservative political opinion in the USA and how the organization could be used to soften the GOP's view towards Russian Federation, per the affidavit.

Read the full affidavit below.

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