Accused Russian agent Maria Butina poised to plead guilty in US

Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist accused of trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and influence US policy toward Russia, is expected to plead guilty in a court hearing on Wednesday.

Butina was charged with conspiracy and working as an unregistered agent of the Russian government after her arrest in the US in July.

She pleaded not guilty to both charges and has since been held in solitary confinement awaiting sentencing. But according to a Monday court filing, Butina appears to be cooperating with investigators and will plead guilty to at least one of those charges.

“The parties have resolved this matter,” a filing by Butina’s lawyer said.

Butina’s case represents just one of many apparent attempts by relatively fringe Russian actors to reach out to the Trump campaign in 2015 and 2016 with offers of arranging a meeting between Donald Trump, the US president, and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.

Click Here: Golf Equipment Online

Maria Butina appears in a police booking photograph released by the Alexandria Sheriff's OfficeCredit:

Butina appeared to make deep inroads with the NRA, one of the earliest and most vocal groups to come out in support of Mr Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Butina widely publicised her efforts to network with NRA officials and Republican presidential candidates, and owed much of her success in wooing the NRA to her background as a quasi-Libertarian gun rights activist in Russia. 

Examination of her background suggests she championed gun rights liberalization in Moscow in an effort to launch a political career.

As head of a Russian gun rights group, Butina studied closely the NRA playbook. She also fell in with a former Russian senator, Alexander Torshin, who had also fostered close ties with several NRA officials.

Maria Butina during a hearing in federal court in WashingtonCredit:

Butina suddenly resigned as head of her gun rights organisation in 2015, and then began frequent travels to the US, eventually enrolling in a graduate program at American University in Washington.

All the while, she kept in regular contact with Mr Torshin, who acted as a handler, as she continued to network with NRA officials and work to establish backchannels between Russian officials and Trump’s campaign.

It is unclear when she caught the attention of US authorities, but she was arrested in July when she was deemed a flight risk. US prosecutors working the case appear unrelated to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s broader investigation into Russian interference efforts.