Moscow calls on US to stop unfounded prosecution of Russia’s alleged agent Butina

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MOSCOW, August 3. /TASS/. Moscow urges Washington to stop the unfounded prosecution of Russia’s alleged agent Maria Butina and ensure her return home as soon as possible, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

“The case against Butina is fabricated and is related only to fierce domestic political struggles in the United States and the wish to cast a shadow on our country,” Zakharova said. “We expect that the world community and the respective international bodies will pay attention to the blatant arbitrary treatment in the US. We demand to stop the unfounded prosecution of Butina and ensure her return home as soon as possible.”

Russia’s diplomats in Washington continue monitoring the situation, noting that the charges against Butina are farfetched. “Recently, Russian diplomats in Washington visited Butina and found out that her custody conditions leave much to be desired.”

“She [Butina] is treated in jail as a dangerous criminal, she has been placed in a solitary cell and is under round-the-clock surveillance, prison guards are constantly on duty near the entrance and they rushed into several times at night to allegedly conduct checks, they switched on the light and did not let her sleep,” she said.

The young woman has also complained about bad food and cold, and also being not allowed to go for a walk.

“We insist that Butina is innocent. The charges against her make no sense. Her messages in social networks are used as alleged evidence, certain phrases are taken out of context and they try to distort their meaning,” Zakharova stressed. “No doubt, the Russian did not commit any crimes.”

Butina case

The 29-year-old Maria Butina was arrested in Washington on July 15, on the eve of the Helsinki summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump. The Russian gun rights activist was indicted on charges of conspiracy for conducting activities in the interests of a foreign state. The investigators claim she engaged in these activities without registering as a foreign agent at the US Department of Justice. Butina will remain in custody until the next court hearing due on September 10.

The FBI said Butina entered the US in August 2016 on a student visa and took up studies at the American University. She received the master’s degree in international relations in May 2018, according to her lawyer.

Butina is a member of the board of the Russian public associations ‘The Right to Guns’. In this capacity, she attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in February 2017 where President Donald Trump took part.

On July 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underlined in his telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that US actions against Russian citizen Maria Butina were inadmissible.

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