The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] unsealed a criminal complaint [text, PDF] and an affidavit [text, PDF] on Monday against Russian national Mariia Butina for conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notification to the Attorney General and influencing American politics.
Butina is accused of working on behalf of the Russian Federation and attempting to advance the interests of the Russian Federation. Butina entered the US in or around August 2016 on an F-1 Student Visa and is accused of making contact with a US person in March 2016 in furtherance of the conspiracy. Butina is also accused of emailing a US person in September 2016 “to organize an event for the purpose of influencing the views of U.S. officials, as those views relate to the Russian Federation.”
According the the affidavit, a March 2015 email between a US Person and Butina discussed relationships Butina had with a guns rights organization’s leadership and officials. The US person also provided Butina with a list of business, media, and political contacts.
The affidavit also stated that Butina and a Russian official attended the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast and the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast. The 2017 breakfast was also attended by 12 other Russian guests. After the 2017 breakfast, Butina emailed an organizer of the event discussing a new relationship between the US and Russia. Butina also emailed another US person, stating “My dearest President has received ‘the message’ about your group initiatives and kind attention to the Russians.”
Butina was arrested [press release] on July 15, and a hearing is scheduled for July 18. The Russian official for whom Butina is accused of working is a former member of the Russian Federation legislature and a current top official at the Russia Central Bank.
The release of the criminal complaint comes just days after the DOJ accused 12 Russian intelligence officers of hacking the emails of the Hillary Clinton campaign. New charges of witness tampering were also levied [JURIST report] against Paul Manafort in June, who was previously charged with conspiracy against the US.
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