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UPDATED: Maria Butina Endgame

Tony Kevin

The Maria Butina criminal investigation, cruel and futile as it has been, seems to be approaching resolution. I wrote in some detail in Off-Guardian on 29 July about the 15 July arrest by the FBI in Washington DC of a 29-year-old Russian national, a postgraduate student in Washington DC and gun enthusiast, Maria Butina.

I was not expecting Maria Butina to be still languishing in solitary confinement in a high-security prison in Virginia awaiting trial as an agent of foreign influence, over four months later. Yet this is what has happened to this unfortunate young aspiring lobbyist for better US-Russian relations.

The Russian Government considers her, with good cause in my view, to be an innocent political prisoner who has been sorely mistreated – a victim of current American elite Russophobia.

On 22 July, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told US Secretary of State Pompeo that Butina, arrested in the US on 15 July , one day before the Helsinki Summit began, under accusations that she was a Russian agent, had been detained on ‘fabricated charges’ and should be released. The Russian Foreign Ministry in ensuing months steadily upped the pressure, with regular prison visits to Maria whenever they could, and press updates by an increasingly outspoken Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who commented officially on 5 December:

Update on Maria Butina:-

We are outraged by the pressure that the American authorities are exerting on Russian citizen Maria Butina, who was arrested in the US last summer on trumped-up charges. Once more, her detention terms have been toughened. She is in solitary confinement for 22 hours per day. Ms Butina is not receiving proper medical care. We consider this an attempt to intimidate and break her down ahead of the court hearing – I should note once again on a fabricated case – scheduled for December 19.

Russian diplomats in Washington take every effort to support Ms Butina, visiting and calling her on a regular basis. They have sent a resolute protest to the prison officials, demanding that this degrading treatment stop. A note containing a harsh demarche in this connection has been sent to the Department of State.

We will continue demanding the release of Ms Butina, who is a victim of this blatant outrage…

On 10 December, news broke dramatically in US media (which has been grossly vindictive and defamatory in its reporting on Butina, e.g., watch any Rachel Maddow MSNBC commentary to get the full nasty flavour) that Butina had agreed a plea deal with US Federal prosecutors, which was to be submitted for approval to Judge Tanya Chutkan , hopefully today (but already delayed twice).

The initial indictment in July had charged Butina with one major charge – conspiracy to act as an agent of foreign influence (18 USC §371), and one lesser charge – failing to register as an agent of foreign influence (18 USC § 951). See my earlier Off-Guardian essay.

These charges were framed around Butina’s alleged role in an alleged covert Russian influence-seeking operation in the United States in 2015-16, through her cultivating National Rifle Association (NRA) personal contacts to try to influence the imminent Trump Administration to view Russia more favourably. Butina allegedly reported regularly on her lobbying activities to her friend and financial patron, a wealthy senior Russian bank official (now retired), Alexander Torshin.

Her main contact in the NRA and Republican Party was her said-to-be lover, a middle-aged American politician, Paul Erickson. Despite frantic FBI efforts to seek evidence of covert operations or spying, her contacts with Torshin and Erickson in her social media and open emails.were overt and proudly acknowledged as such. Nevertheless, these contacts were considered by US prosecutors as evidence of a ‘conspiracy against the US’.

During her five months imprisonment, Erickson has continued to visit her. She was initially, and again recently, being held in harsh solitary confinement. Her lawyers report, I am sure truthfully, that her mental condition has deteriorated in jail and she has had no treatment for this. Her official jail photo (above) taken in August shows her suffering. Her knowledge of her powerlessness in the face of a hostile and vengeful US State justice system, which was endeavouring, through harsh prison treatment, to break her morale, would have affected even the bravest person.

President Trump has not so far bothered to comment on her case. President Putin recently tweeted:

She faces 15 years of imprisonment. For what? When I first heard about this, I questioned all the heads of the Russian special services. Who is this? No one knows anything about her.”

Maria’s father, a steadfast defender of her innocence, said she will not incriminate herself or anyone else. But she may now have no choice but to do so.

The NY Times, which said it had seen the court papers laying out the plea deal, but has not published or detailed them, says that she has agreed to plead guilty to ‘conspiring to act as a foreign agent’. It is not clear from this whether she is pleading guilty to both charges §371 and §951, of which the former conspiracy charge reportedly carries risk of up to a five year sentence.

If the judge were now to accept a plea of guilty only under the latter charge §951 of failing to register as a foreign agent, which entails possible sentencing up to six months, a best-case scenario is that Butina could be released and deported home to Russia quite soon in view of her time already served awaiting trial – hopefully, even in time for the Russian Christmas 6 January?

There is much US media speculation over the nature of Butina’s offered plea bargain – to which the judge must first agree – and how events might transpire from here. The NY Times (op.cit). reports that a condition of the plea deal is that,

Butina must cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in exchange for what could be a short prison term, or possibly a release after having already spent five months in jail.”

Butina may come under intense pressure to testify that her overt dealings with Torshin and Erickson in 2015-16 constituted a ‘conspiracy against the US’. No great significance should be attached to whatever she may say publicly at this point of extreme pressure on her. This poor young woman has suffered greatly, unjustly, at the hands of the US ‘justice system’.

She needs to get home to safety and recovery. She has borne her unjust and cruel imprisonment heroically. Her accusers and their MSM cheer-squad are the people who should be ashamed of themselves for their persecution of this young woman.
The episode has further lowered the US state’s standing in Russian eyes. It is hard to see how this could get much lower anyway, after Trump’s mounting anti-Russian sanctions, and his disappointment of the initial hopes Russians had placed in him as an East-West peacemaker. He is now seen in Russia as just another war-mongering US President: a weak mouthpiece of the Russophobic US national security establishment. It is hard to disagree.

Watching this sad story from Australia, a compliant US ally, I am struck by how easily any naive young Australian political activist of Russian or Chinese background could become embroiled in a similar stitch-up by paranoid Australian national security law enforcement agencies, under Australia’s new foreign influence laws which are closely modelled on the American laws that ensnared Butina.

The Australian government has admitted to the relevant Parliamentary committee that the enforcement of these new laws will be entirely at the government’s discretion as to what cases shall be investigated and prosecuted. People working to improve relations with Australia’s currently presumed enemies of the day – currently Russia and China – need to watch their behaviour carefully, not to enter into any working relationships of a kind that could be construed by hostile investigators as a ‘conspiracy’.

Meanwhile, such relationship-building conduct is regarded by authorities as quite normal in the cases of countries with which the Australian political culture feels comfortable – the US, Britain, and Israel being the most obvious examples.

In my own public efforts to make the case for improved Australian governmental relations with Russia and China, I am careful to ensure that nothing I say or write could be construed as indicating any ‘conspiracy’ or ‘collusion’ with any Russian or Chinese national who was not an exempt accredited diplomat.

Maria Butina’s vulnerability arose from her accepting financial support from Mr Torshin and help with making contacts from Mr Erickson , and from her freely sharing with others her hopes and plans for better US-Russian relations, and from her taking on an active and conspicuous public lobbying role to this end. Memo to my Russian and Chinese friends in Australia – be careful how you engage in politics in Australia.

The absence of any Australian MSM or human rights lobby interest in Maria Butina’s cruel treatment over the past six months (and the general elite indifference here to the cruel mistreatment in London of asylumseeker Julian Assange) warns of the dangers any of us could face, if we do not behave with prudence in such contentious areas of policy activism. Orwell’s 1984 is not so far away as some may think.

As we await final directions from Judge Chutkan, an argument has broken out in US MSM as to whether Butina was ‘tortured’ – a word recently used by Zakharova in an exclusive CNN interview but strenuously denied by CNN.

However, everything Zakharova says as Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson about Butina’s treatment in prison is supported by American MSM public reports over the past five months. Butina was initially, and is again now, in harsh solitary confinement. She was awakened every half hour under suicide watch rules. She was fed bad food, kept in a cold cell without blankets, denied exercise and sunlight and medical care, visitation rights were restricted to once a week.

It seems she was not physically tortured in the strict sense of the word but her prolonged harsh and vindictive treatment waiting over five months for her repeatedly delayed trial amounted to ‘torture’. We do not know what interrogation techniques were used. We will be told one day.

She was and is a political prisoner and has been treated like a terrorist. Politically aware Russians will remember this case with particular rage. No American imprisoned in Russia on whatever charge has ever thus been treated by the Government of Russia.

This case has done great damage to prospects for improved Russia-US relations. What has been gained by the US? Nothing.

UPDATE 14/12/18: Judge Chutkan today approved the agreed plea deal. She set a status conference for 12 February under a single charge of “conspiracy to violate 18 USC § 951, in violation of 18 USC § 371”, with a sentencing guideline of 0-6 months if Butina is deemed to have sufficiently cooperated with prosecutors’ inquiries. If she is lucky, she could then be released to return home to Russia. Meanwhile, she remains in prison and under duress: American justice.

Former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin is the author of Return to Moscow ( UWA Publishing, 2017)

87 Comments

  1. How to analyse an improbable story from media/government.

    Part I

    A good way to get a sense of the reality of an improbable story is to apply the analytic tool of looking for giveaway signs that the story is fabricated. The power elite give us these signs as a way to justify their crime of fabrication (they figure it’s up to us to call them out and if we don’t, the fault’s on us and they are spared karmic repercussions – it’s obvious they derive much amusement from pushing the envelope with their signs too) so why not make use of this generous gift? I talk of this gift over and over on OffG but few seem to accept it as a “thing” and yet the evidence of it is so very clear. There are so many things told to us in media stories whose explanation can only fit “deliberate sign”.

    How to look and what to look for – (no doubt there’s more but this is enough to start with):

    — A perusal of Wikipedia entries on the people involved for clues
    — General anomalies
    — Images showing signs of doctoring with no good reason for that doctoring
    — Things that don’t add up and things that very obviously don’t add up
    — Contradictions
    — Over-the-top elements that sound implausible
    — A lack of expected evidence
    — Variant spellings of names
    — Background of people involved
    — Smiling grievers (where death is reported)
    — Masonic symbols such as images showing single shoes, anything to do with the number 11 and its multiples, eg, perpetrator’s age is 22, a couple involved have been married for 22 years.

    So what examples do we have for Maria Butina?

    — Wikipedia entry: hokey-sounding drunken bragging of Russian government connections reported by fellow students – this fits “implausible”. You wonder, to whom did they report this allegedly very suspicious bragging?

    — Doctoring: Some images of her holding a weapon where the weapon is photoshopped in (while some look perfectly real)

    — Not adding up:

    —— She is the founder of a Russian organisation, The Right to Bear Arms, that has no evidence of itself or of her being its founder except this website (as far as I can tell) which in no way matches expectation of such an organisation’s website http://pravonaoryzhie.ru/?p=3915

    —— It is claimed she is at a rally in Moscow for the organisation, The Right to Bear Arms, that occurred on 1 Dec, 2012, 10 days before the (proven-to-be staged) Sandy Hook mass shooting. The shooting prompted Maria, only hours after the event, to say:

    “In this shooting six teachers died, six people who could literally use only their hands to defend children,” said Maria Butina, the organization’s 24-year old founder. “The murderer planned this knowing that no one would be armed.”

    The photos look as if Maria is photoshopped into them and as if perhaps more photoshopping than that is involved. I don’t understand Russian but I’d be surprised if the banners show anything to do with gun rights – however, even if they do, there’s nothing to say they couldn’t be photoshopped. Perhaps a Russian speaker can enlighten us? https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-gun-laws-newtown-massacre/24804185.html

    —— Her surname is Butina but this is a Croatian name (of course, ancestors could have migrated or whatever but there is no mention of this).

    • Part II

      — Contradictions: None come to mind but no doubt there are.

      — Over-the-top implausible: Wikipedia and Moscow rally mentioned above

      — A lack of expected evidence:
      —— A number of photos of Maria holding a microphone suggesting she’s speaking on a platform but but no video evidence or any convincing evidence of the reality of this
      —— No compelling evidence of Maria in Russia. There’s the rally above but the photos are not convincing, This journalist at the New Republic describes meeting her in “a shooting gallery in a basement under a shabby, mafia-ridden hotel complex built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics” but no image. https://newrepublic.com/article/110223/the-rise-russia-gun-nuts

      — The backgrounds of both the judge and her lawyer raise questions.
      —— Judge Chutkan was judge on a case where she let the clearly guilty defendants off. https://brassballs.blog/home/imran-awan-and-wife-hina-alvi-to-accept-plea-deal-on-july-3rd
      —— Article about how lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has worked on anti-Trump cases that would seem to compromise working on Butina’s case where Fox did not disclose this information to viewers. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/27/642356784/fox-news-hasnt-always-shared-robert-driscoll-s-credentials-with-its-viewers

      — Variant spelling of names. Her name is spelt two ways which could be just coincidence as perfectly legitimate variations in English transliteration of Cyrillic but it does seem to be made a thing of especially, of course, if “Nataliia Sova” is an aka as George Webb suggests.

      I really don’t know anything about this case at all but even with no background it is easy to pick up glaring anomalies. George Webb has so much more on this case. https://www.youtube.com/user/georgwebb/search?query=butina

    • — Contradictions: None come to mind but no doubt there are.

      — Over-the-top implausible: Wikipedia and Moscow rally mentioned above

      — A lack of expected evidence:
      —— A number of photos of Maria holding a microphone suggesting she’s speaking on a platform but but no video evidence or any convincing evidence of the reality of this
      —— No compelling evidence of Maria in Russia. There’s the rally above but the photos are not convincing, This journalist at the New Republic describes meeting her in “a shooting gallery in a basement under a shabby, mafia-ridden hotel complex built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics” but no image. https://newrepublic.com/article/110223/the-rise-russia-gun-nuts

      — The backgrounds of both the judge and her lawyer raise questions.
      —— Judge Chutkan was judge on a case where she let the clearly guilty defendants off. https://brassballs.blog/home/imran-awan-and-wife-hina-alvi-to-accept-plea-deal-on-july-3rd
      —— Article about how lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has worked on anti-Trump cases that would seem to compromise working on Butina’s case where Fox did not disclose this information to viewers. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/27/642356784/fox-news-hasnt-always-shared-robert-driscoll-s-credentials-with-its-viewers

      — Variant spelling of names. Her name is spelt two ways which could be just coincidence as perfectly legitimate variations in English transliteration of Cyrillic but it does seem to be made a thing of especially, of course, if “Nataliia Sova” is an aka as George Webb suggests.

      I really don’t know anything about this case at all but even with no background it is easy to pick up glaring anomalies. George Webb has so much more on this case. https://www.youtube.com/user/georgwebb/search?query=butina

    • flax99 says

      Part II

      — Contradictions: None come to mind but no doubt there are.

      — Over-the-top implausible: Wikipedia and Moscow rally mentioned above

      — A lack of expected evidence:
      —— A number of photos of Maria holding a microphone suggesting she’s speaking on a platform but but no video evidence or any convincing evidence of the reality of this
      —— No compelling evidence of Maria in Russia. There’s the rally above but the photos are not convincing, This journalist at the New Republic describes meeting her in “a shooting gallery in a basement under a shabby, mafia-ridden hotel complex built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics” but no image. https://newrepublic.com/article/110223/the-rise-russia-gun-nuts

      — The backgrounds of both the judge and her lawyer raise questions.
      —— Judge Chutkan was judge on a case where she let the clearly guilty defendants off. https://brassballs.blog/home/imran-awan-and-wife-hina-alvi-to-accept-plea-deal-on-july-3rd
      —— Article about how lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has worked on anti-Trump cases that would seem to compromise working on Butina’s case where Fox did not disclose this information to viewers. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/27/642356784/fox-news-hasnt-always-shared-robert-driscoll-s-credentials-with-its-viewers

      — Variant spelling of names. Her name is spelt two ways which could be just coincidence as perfectly legitimate variations in English transliteration of Cyrillic but it does seem to be made a thing of especially, of course, if “Nataliia Sova” is an aka as George Webb suggests.

      I really don’t know anything about this case at all but even with no background it is easy to pick up glaring anomalies. George Webb has so much more on this case. https://www.youtube.com/user/georgwebb/search?query=butina

  2. How to analyse an improbable story from media/government.

    A good way to get a sense of the reality of an improbable story is to apply the analytic tool of looking for giveaway signs that the story is fabricated. The power elite give us these signs as a way to justify their crime of fabrication (they figure it’s up to us to call them out and if we don’t, the fault’s on us and they are spared karmic repercussions – it’s obvious they derive much amusement from pushing the envelope with their signs too) so why not make use of this generous gift? I talk of this gift over and over on OffG but few seem to accept it as a “thing” and yet the evidence of it is so very clear. There are so many things told to us in media stories whose explanation can only fit “deliberate sign”.

    How to look and what to look for – (no doubt there’s more but this is enough to start with):

    — A perusal of Wikipedia entries on the people involved for clues
    — General anomalies
    — Images showing signs of doctoring with no good reason for that doctoring
    — Things that don’t add up and things that very obviously don’t add up
    — Contradictions
    — Over-the-top elements that sound implausible
    — A lack of expected evidence
    — Variant spellings of names
    — Background of people involved
    — Smiling grievers (where death is reported)
    — Masonic symbols such as images showing single shoes, anything to do with the number 11 and its multiples, eg, perpetrator’s age is 22, a couple involved have been married for 22 years.

    So what examples do we have for Maria Butina?

    — Wikipedia entry: hokey-sounding drunken bragging of Russian government connections reported by fellow students – this fits “implausible”. You wonder, to whom did they report this allegedly very suspicious bragging?

    — Doctoring: Some images of her holding a weapon where the weapon is photoshopped in (while some look perfectly real)

    — Not adding up:

    —— She is the founder of a Russian organisation, The Right to Bear Arms, that has no evidence of itself or of her being its founder except this website (as far as I can tell) which in no way matches expectation of such an organisation’s website http://pravonaoryzhie.ru/?p=3915

    —— It is claimed she is at a rally in Moscow for the organisation, The Right to Bear Arms, that occurred on 1 Dec, 2012, 10 days before the (proven-to-be staged) Sandy Hook mass shooting. The shooting prompted Maria, only hours after the event, to say:

    “In this shooting six teachers died, six people who could literally use only their hands to defend children,” said Maria Butina, the organization’s 24-year old founder. “The murderer planned this knowing that no one would be armed.”

    The photos look as if Maria is photoshopped into them and as if perhaps more photoshopping than that is involved. I don’t understand Russian but I’d be surprised if the banners show anything to do with gun rights – however, even if they do, there’s nothing to say they couldn’t be photoshopped. Perhaps a Russian speaker can enlighten us? https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-gun-laws-newtown-massacre/24804185.html

    —— Her surname is Butina but this is a Croatian name (of course, ancestors could have migrated or whatever but there is no mention of this).

    — Contradictions: None come to mind but no doubt there are.

    — Over-the-top implausible: Wikipedia and Moscow rally mentioned above

    — A lack of expected evidence:
    —— A number of photos of Maria holding a microphone suggesting she’s speaking on a platform but but no video evidence or any convincing evidence of the reality of this
    —— No compelling evidence of Maria in Russia. There’s the rally above but the photos are not convincing, This journalist at the New Republic describes meeting her in “a shooting gallery in a basement under a shabby, mafia-ridden hotel complex built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics” but no image. https://newrepublic.com/article/110223/the-rise-russia-gun-nuts

    — The backgrounds of both the judge and her lawyer raise questions.
    —— Judge Chutkan was judge on a case where she let the clearly guilty defendants off. https://brassballs.blog/home/imran-awan-and-wife-hina-alvi-to-accept-plea-deal-on-july-3rd
    —— Article about how lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has worked on anti-Trump cases that would seem to compromise working on Butina’s case where Fox did not disclose this information to viewers. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/27/642356784/fox-news-hasnt-always-shared-robert-driscoll-s-credentials-with-its-viewers

    — Variant spelling of names. Her name is spelt two ways which could be just coincidence as perfectly legitimate variations in English transliteration of Cyrillic but it does seem to be made a thing of especially, of course, if “Nataliia Sova” is an aka as George Webb suggests.

    I really don’t know anything about this case at all but even with no background it is easy to pick up glaring anomalies. George Webb has so much more on this case. https://www.youtube.com/user/georgwebb/search?query=butina

    • Admin says

      Masonic symbols? Isn’t this getting a little too David Icke? I guarantee about 90% of your audience rolled their eyes and stopped reading at that point.

      • Perhaps they did, Admin, but I have to call things as I know them to be not according to whether people will think I’m a loony conspiracy theorist if I do that. The evidence clearly shows Masonic symbols are used in events staged by the power elite. When, of course, you have doubts even about the phenomenon itself of staged events I guess you will think that Masonic symbols really are in la-la land but all I can say to someone who thinks of themself as well-informed but doubts their existence – what planet do you live on? Perhaps you think the power elite are pretty much like you and me but just happen to like power and be very rich and that that is the only difference between us and them. Perhaps you think that they wouldn’t have their own secret belief system and operate according to a very different code from us – they just like money and power and that’s it. They’re not involved in child and drug trafficking and don’t get up to all sorts at their Bilderberg gatherings and suchlike. They’re just totally normal except for liking money and power.

        I’d be grateful if you’d delete all my duplicate comments above the last one. They wouldn’t publish and then they’ve obviously all published now.

      • Assuming you’re always the same Admin your method seems to be one of helicoptering in with a comment that is not germane to the argument and helicoptering out again.

        What 90% of any group’s reaction to anything I say is not something I can speak by as 90% of most people don’t want to hear what I have to say and/or don’t believe me.

        I judge by the evidence and speak by the evidence and the evidence clearly shows Masonic symbols are used in these events. I’m also interested in a coherent argument whereas coherence of a theory or argument seems of little interest to you.

        I wonder what you think of the article author’s going along with the media narrative and of my comments that indicate the media narrative is false. Do you have an opinion on the veracity of the media narrative that Maria Butina is a Russian citizen who founded the organisation, the Right to Bear Arms? Do you think there is sufficient evidence to prove one way or another the truth of this statement – and if so, what do you think? Or do you rest in blissful ambivalence because you don’t think there is sufficient evidence either way?

        I’d be grateful if you would remove all my comments above the lowest one above as they’re all duplicates. This comment may also be sort-of duplicated as I have written something similar already but it didn’t publish. If so, can you remove it as well.

  3. Well, well, well. It seems Maria Butina was born in Severn, Maryland, is of Croatian origin and has been an operative with the NRA since 2011. I thought Maria Butina was a very odd name for a Russian. I very, very much doubt that Valeryevna is her middle name. Perhaps she’s never even been to Russia – there’s no photographic evidence of it anyway.

    https://brassballs.blog/home/maria-butina-stays-in-jail-isolation-without-bond-pending-sentencing-on-feb-29

    • Hang on. Or maybe Maria Butina is really Nataliia Sova who’s married to Abid Awan, Imran Awan’s brother who was defended by Judge Chutkan. Doesn’t that all join up if so? Too labyrinthine for me – all I’ll say is – it’s all bollocks.

      • I should say is Nataliia Sova an “aka” for Maria Butina … but really I haven’t a clue. I know nothing about all this stuff. All I know is that what they tell us isn’t backed by evidence. Interesting how we see both Maria and Natalia’s names spelt with a double i and with a single i.

        • Obviously, the “double i” is not some strange coincidence. “Double i” can be seen as 11, the master Masonic number – 9/11, 22/11 (JFK), Armistice 11.11.11, – and perhaps this number comes from what is described below.

          From the book, “Book of Daleth”
          “Remember that many of the founding fathers of the United States were Freemasons, and Freemasonry involves Egyptian symbolism. It happens that the dollar symbol is a combination of the letter “I” and the letter “S”. The double “I” used on the original dollar sign is more likely a Masonic reference to the double columns framing the Egyptian Portal of the Sun …

          https://books.google.com.au/books?id=y6Urwc1fXU8C&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=%22Double+i%22+egyptian+portal&source=bl&ots=ETJWxi169G&sig=RbMplX74zrMd9BSWT-VnKmfkhpo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjShO2VyqXfAhXUWysKHaCBABoQ6AEwBnoECAQQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22Double%20i%22%20egyptian%20portal&f=false

          • I was overstepping it on the double ‘i’. This is obviously a common spelling of the name Maria in Russia (as is Nataliia), however, they do seem to make a point of spelling “Maria” and “Natalia” both ways and refer to the spelling too so perhaps they’re just using the two spellings as part of their Masonic coding (likeness to ’11’) and “revelation of the method” (using spelling variants), even if the spelling is a normal spelling.

            • Admin says

              Russian Cyrillic lettering can only be approximated in the western alphabet as there are many Cyrillic symbols for specific enunciations that don’t translate directly at all. Variant western renderings of Russian words are common as a result. Nothing odd or unusual about this.

              • Yes, I realise that now, however, coincidentally double “ii” looks like 11 (the master Masonic number) and using variant spellings of people’s names is something the power elite do in their fabrications. If there were no other signs then we would have no reason to assume that the variants of single and double ‘i’ being used is anything other than a reflection of the usual variance in transliteration from Cyrillic to Roman script, however, as there are other typical signs such as photoshopped images and a hokey-sounding snippet in Wikipedia about Maria’s drunken bragging of Russian government connections reported by her fellow students, not to mention a lack of evidence of the organisation Maria reportedly founded or any clear visual evidence of her in Russia plus evidence of corruptness of the judge assigned her case, etc, I think it’s a case of them making something of this normal variance. I have to say I’ve never noticed the double ‘ii’ myself before although I have seen ‘i’ and ‘y’ variations and it’s interesting that you see both names spelt both ways. I’d imagine you’d expect that a person would choose one way to spell their name in English.

                In the scheme of things it’s of little importance and may, in fact, not be significant at all but I wouldn’t say it’s not worthy of mention.

  4. Reading an article reprinted from the NYT in the Sydney Morning Herald/ Melbourne Age, I was struck by a huge contradiction between the title and the content. It says “Foreign Asset – a student has admitted being a Russian plant to inflitrate the NRA and Republican party… etc”, which may be true in a sense about her plea bargain admitted under duress.
    But the article says that most charges against her have been dropped for lack of any evidence. Prosecutors admitted this week that she genuinely wanted a graduate degree, was not in contact with Russian intelligence agencies, and dropped accusations she only used Erikson as a means to contact other influential Americans. So all she is charged with is, as someone noted – failing to register as an agent of foreign influence.
    And what was her actual crime? She wanted to see relationships between Russians and Americans improved! how criminal! In fact she’ll probably have decided by now that Russians might be better to have nothing to do with Americans as far as possible. And that the threat of being deported will be the blessing of being allowed to go home.
    I think the point the author makes on the timing of her arrest, just before the Helsinki summit, is probably almost the most important aspect of this. And remembering too that that summit only followed two days after the finale of the World Cup in Russia. And was preceded by the rebirth of the Novichok nonsense in Amesbury. We need to remember that these things don’t just happen by chance, what with thousands of agents and institutes working so hard to coordinate them and manipulate opinion.

    12
  5. flamingosarepink says

    Is there not one congressperson to stand up for justice for this woman? I can understand the revolting behavior of msnbc stenographers spitting hatred, but what are all the new ‘progressive’ democrats saying/doing to alleviate her prison conditions. Where are the noises from Judicial Watch? A country of cowards. Boycott, divest, sanction USA.

  6. Frankly Speaking says

    Russia needs to follow China’s example and seize a US citizen or two in retaliation. The US is a bully and needs to be treated as such.

    • Yarkob says

      I fear for Carole’s sanity. I read her Twitter last week. I don’t do twatter, it’s too full of big babies and weirdos, but Cadwalladr’s is an insight into a mind losing its already tenuous grip on reality. She should really seek some professional help. If it weren’t tragic it would be hilarious

  7. “Her lawyers report, I am sure truthfully, that her mental condition has deteriorated in jail and she has had no treatment for this. Her official jail photo (above) taken in August shows her suffering.”

    Because she’s not wearing make-up, not as hot as usual? What an unusual statement.

    More on topic–China is recently showing Canada that if they mess with one of theirs, one of Canada’s will be messed with. Russia has shown extreme patience with the US’ often illegal warfare by dubious charges, dubious sanctions, etc. One day though they might start playing the same game and punish some US elites/oligarchs/supposed spies. Wouldn’t that be something.

    Oh and the MSM of course assumes she’s a spy, but assumes US citizens such as captured in NK or Iran are just hikers or academics. Which might be true, but the press doesn’t even consider this.

    Of course this silly and schoolyard drama is meaningless since we’re destroying fair mother Gaia. Hopefully she’ll lay the smack down. Though chimps are also horrible assholes and if they evolve complex language and take our place the world will eventually suffer just as much. Maybe elephants, or dugongs should take over, they seem cool. The other day on TV I saw a pygmy marmoset riding a mustachioed capuchin monkey. And another day I saw a pet kitten riding a pet turtle across a room. Maybe plans are being made to usurp humans AND chimps! And you know crows and badgers will be involved!!

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    • My first thought about the photo and the info about it was that we need to look at it as though we know nothing about it. I don’t see anything unusual in the photo, in that regard. Which isn’t to say that she isn’t suffering.

      • Agreed. I see no bruises or other damage. And this is also the first (at least for me) I’ve seen of her without makeup and doing her hair, and with a poor camera. And I’m not trying to nay-say her status and suffering. She was basically tortured by the US’ notorious torture rooms that they hold for months or years no one even getting to trial yet. 15 years for an innocent kid snatched up in Pakistan. 4 years for a Manning. 4 months for a Butina. Just torture them.

        Anyway, I’ve also seen some parrots in South America or Africa ride the backs of sheeps—to DRINK THEIR BLOOD! These parrots rip out flesh and drink.

        And I’ve seen a squirrel riding a woodpecker through the air but I think maybe that wasn’t agreed upon by the woodpecker as the squirrel might have been trying to eat the bird. And wow, woodpecker, your kids and buds are never going to believe that shit that actually happened to you.

        And of course the oxbirds and such, birds that ride large beasts that trundle through weeds and swamps, and in doing so insects are like “woah! Me fly!” and the birds then eat them. And I saw one tiny bird riding on a Heron or Egret, for the same purpose. And I mean just shut it all down and let me die in peace if I would see a bird riding a bird riding a bird. Maybe an Ostrich annoyed by a Heron riding it annoyed by a Golden Beefucker riding that Heron’s own ass.

        And I also saw an octopus and its wrasse buddy swimming along and using their individual skills to better murder and eat smaller prey.

        Can anyone explain why Octopi and Cuttlefish have such short lifespans? They seem way to smart to just die after breeding like some kind of salmon or mayfly. Sorry for so much off-topic.

        And I didn’t even mention Hippos, who just go along in the water with their tail propeller going in order to best poop everywhere. They poop like Scotsman. They poop like warrior poets. Sorry I’m a bit drunk. And also an asshole myself but many of you people make really good comments and have enriched my sense of what the fuckery.

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      • Exactly. I see ZERO evidence to back any of this story including any evidence of the Right to Bear Arms organisation.

  8. Yonatan says

    The CIA tortured Sheik Khalid Mohammed – waterboarding him 138 times. Some of the US MIC clearly get off on torture.

    • This dark world’s paradigm, or operating principle is: Riches For The Strongest

  9. nigelfink says

    ’bout time we got all americans out of our nations and back where they belong – in the united state of arses

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    • wardropper says

      Let’s not label all Americans as if they were US politicians.
      American people are just as wise, shrewd, or gullible, as people anywhere else.
      The problem is always our “representatives”.
      I’d like to see a survey done which reveals exactly how many weeks after embarking upon a political career a person gets corrupted.

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  10. I find it perplexing that no one is mentioning her links to – and support for – cartoon Russian ‘opposition’ figure Navalny. Why is that?

    The USA appears to be playing its trump card, so to speak, and she looks to me like a willing accomplice in the frame-up, both of Russia and the bad Orange Man.

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    • John2o2o says

      You’d be “willing” too Bozo if you had been kept in solitary confinement ( =torture) for as long as she has.

      This is a political conviction. Russiagaters wanted blood – they were beginning to look stupid. Now they get to crow that Russian interference is a fact. (It isn’t of course).

      At worst Maria Butina failed to fill in a form. Nothing more.

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    • Jen says

      We have had this discussion about Alexei Navalny endorsing Maria Butina as one of seven candidates for election for the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation for the professional way in which she campaigned in a previous comments forum at Off-Guardian.org.
      https://off-guardian.org/2018/07/29/americas-latest-witch-hunt/

      The general agreement was that Navalny’s support for these seven candidates, of whom he made a recommendation, and this recommendation not being Butina, was not in itself evidence that Navalny regards Butina as someone he would want in his party or that Butina supports Navalny.

      The original Navalny post in which he mentions Butina as a candidate he endorses for election – and the basis of rumour that he supports Butina and she supports him – is at his blog (you will need Google Translate to read):
      https://navalny.com/p/3571/

      The discussion ended with my observation that the US might have lost an opportunity to use Butina, her quest for her fellow Russian citizens to have the right to carry weapons freely, and her connection to a senior official in the Central Bank of Russia, as an agent to infiltrate Russian politics itself.

    • Jen says

      We have had this discussion about Alexei Navalny endorsing Maria Butina as one of seven candidates for election for the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation for the professional way in which she campaigned in a previous comments forum at Off-Guardian.org.
      https://off-guardian.org/2018/07/29/americas-latest-witch-hunt/

      The general agreement was that Navalny’s support for these seven candidates, of whom he made recommendations, and none of these recommendations included Butina, was not in itself evidence that Navalny regards Butina as someone he would want in his party or that Butina supports Navalny.

      The original Navalny post in which he mentions Butina as a candidate he endorses for election is at his blog (you will need Google Translate to read):
      https://navalny.com/p/3571/

      The discussion ended with my observation that the US might have lost an opportunity to use Butina, her quest for her fellow Russian citizens to have the right to carry weapons freely, and her connection to a senior official in the Central Bank of Russia, as an agent to infiltrate Russian politics itself.

  11. Moscow Exile says

    Russian Eastern Orthodox Christmas falls on 7 January (Gregorian Calendar) and 25 December (Julian Calendar).

    • Con Crete says

      You have that the wrong way around: the Gregorian calender ( named after the Pope who introduced it) is used in the “West”.

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      • John2o2o says

        The world uses the Gregorian Calendar.

    • John2o2o says

      I thought they only celebrated New Year.

  12. John A says

    A classic case of breaking a butterfly on the wheel.
    She would appear to be a not too bright girl who is a gun nut, with delusions that the US is a friendly place. Anyone in solitary confinment for months on end in a foreign country, with all sorts of tricks to make her predicament worse, lack of contact, being woken up every 30 mins, rubbish food (or prob just typical American food), would finally say, yes give me a pen, I’ll sign what you want so I can go home.

    Pity the Skripals will never have the chance to escape their confinement.

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  13. This affair smacks of the Skripals to me. Could Maria really be a US agent rather than a Russian one? They fake absolutely everything – people going to jail, etc. There is no way that Jack Ruby went to jail for the alleged killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. Nor is there any way that the neofascists who allegedly killed 85 and wounded 200 at Bologna station in 1980 went to jail for that false-flag hoax (as opposed to “real” false flag). You cannot believe a WORD the media tells you, especially when the situation seems as absurd as this one. Not saying it’s not true because I haven’t looked at it. I’d just question it, is all. With all the staged school shootings going on they really seem to want to ramp up the fomenting of disharmony between the gun control and anti-gun control supporters. That’s what the power elite is all about. Fomenting disharmony between the different groups for greater control.

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    • From Wikipedia:
      In August 2016, she moved to the United States on a student visa, and enrolled as a graduate student in International Relations at American University in Washington, D.C. While a student at American University, Butina got drunk on at least two separate occasions and bragged to her fellow students about her contacts in the Russian government; on both occasions, her classmates reported her to law enforcement.

      Sounds a little hokey, doncha think?

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      • Badger Down says

        It sounds fake. This is in DC, right?

        Students at American University got drunk on at least two separate occasions and bragged to Butina about their contacts across the street in the US government. Butina, however didn’t rat on them.

        That’s better.

      • RealPeter says

        Great classmates. What a shithole country the US has become.

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      • Flaxgirl.
        She sounds like a jumped up braggart living fast and loose with a big mouth and a small brain. Have you seen the way American students behave when they are plastered? It sounds like a vicious “fit up” to needle Russia – again. The poor woman may be a numb nut, but does not deserve to be treated in this way like a pawn in a stupid game the US excels at(not chess, just the stupid game part).
        There is absolutely no reason to suppose that Butina is party to some sort of “conspiracy”, not everything in everyday life is a conspiracy, especially when their is zero evidence to support such a contention – so, you going to join the MSM in concocting news that isn’t news but propaganda or are you going to come in out of the cold and warm your brain for a while. It’s doubtful whether Butina knows which way is up after months of sleep depravation(which is a torture method)and crap food, but when she is finally allowed her freedom, it will be a quick dash home to Russia and a bucketful of rage against the US. She would have to be really thick to entertain any more of Navalny’s lying claptrap.
        Whilst I believe you to be an extremely intelligent commentor on this site, your are fast becoming a bit paranoid with regard all matters which are actually well investigated by many. Zhakarova is a no-nonsense sort and she is far more credible than the MSM and Lavrov wouldn’t lower himself to the US level in a silly cat and mouse endeavour, so the liklihood of the veracity regarding Butina’s innocent, if stupid involvement with Navalny and guns and her subsequent illegal jailing, is not really a consideration by any sane rationale. Therefore, I would ask that you consider her plight and spread a little humanity around and condemn her jailers and share the disgust so many of us feel at her treatment and wish her well and a safe return home.

        • Sorry, mohandeer, I cannot believe anything about this story. Perhaps she has been put in jail and is sleep deprived but I don’t find it credible and I find no reason to believe any of this story, even if some of it happens to be true.

      • Badger Down says

        Is that something like a “stimulus package”?

    • Not a single photo that I can see identifies her clearly as being in Russia. If she was the founder of the organisation, Right to Bear Arms, why don’t we see images of her in Russia at a conference or similar? A number of photos show her with a weapon that is photoshopped in although there are a number that look real enough too. Photoshopped images – another clue. In the NYT they show a photo of her saying it is of her in Moscow but the background is completely blurred so there is now way to identify where she is.

    • Couldn’t agree more, flaxgirl. (See my earlier comment). I’ve believed she was part of yet another American scam against Russia since her arrest and the odd circumstances and rumours surrounding that. The Navalny connection is there.

      I also wonder if the author of this article has ever seen an unsmiling 30-something woman without make-up, because that’s all the photo above shows. I don’t see the ‘suffering’ he seems determined to emphasize.

      Scam.

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    • John2o2o says

      Or could she just be a Russian that liked America? I think so.

    • Frank.
      Sleep depravation to this degree IS a well used and advocated torture method, as is leaving someone in a cold cell without a blanket. If any country on the US “shit list” were to do this there would be much published outrage from the MSM, but their standards are set high for others while they limbo dance beneath them. Butina(or Butiina) would have signed a pact with the devil to escape her imprisonment. She was likely an aspiring activisst who knew not what she was getting herself into. The reality of being a “spy” will probably keep her quiet and subdued for a while and the self promotion of her credentials will likely haunt her for some time to come.
      So with regard the verdict? The latter.

    • Roberto says

      The last line of the NYT article reveals evidence of the dastardly plot conducted by this young lady, all alone, as she reports to a Russian banker:
      “After the November 2016 election, Ms. Butina wrote to Mr. Torshin on Twitter, prosecutors said: “I am ready for further orders.””
      If all superspies hoping to undermine the ‘democracies’ of the Western world (well, the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and NZ anyway) conducted their affairs on Twitter it would make things so much easier for those who protect us.

      • frank says

        Ah, how convenient, a confession on Twitter. Thanks! All is cleared up now.

  14. UreKismet says

    There will be much much more of this type of carry on all around the world as the petty tyrants who we – as foolish as always – have allowed to take the controls, desperately search around for a ‘hot button topic’ to distract citizens from the tyrants’ own evil doing.
    It is easy to tell which are genuine cases of espionage and which are not. For example both the Canadians currently languishing in China appear to have extremely dodgy credentials – one works for a DC based think tank which appears to have alphabet agency front tattooed across its forehead.

    When a government jumps up and down causing a huge fuss until the human is pardoned and/or released we can be fairly certain the human was indeed a spook. The recent issue with the academic apprehended in UAE being a case in point, altho admittedly the englanders did little initially as they expected the unwhites in charge of the emirates to dutifully doff their shemaghs and do as england instructed quietly, without the attendant fuss which captured spies inevitably generates.
    When UAE and known advocate of shia slaughtering Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan failed to obey, the normally divided brit government united for a brief moment to condemn the errant fuzzy-wuzzies, a certain indication that the chap was a spook.

    Normally, on the occasions when a victim of abduction is just Joe/Jo Sh1tkicker little happens other than the usual prefabricated outrage and cursory form letters of complaint, but that doesn’t stop this from being an effective tool – one of the few straightforward easily executable ways of beating fukUSi at its own game.
    Governments may pay little attention to the news Jo/Joe Blow has been apprehended in possession of a smartphone outside some military installation Jo/Joe passed on the way to the beach, but the rest of us do and are instantly reminded of two important issues – how fragile our existences are, and how little, despite copious pronouncements to the contrary, our politicians really care for us.

    It is obvious that both england and amerika intend to attempt overpowering dissident foreigners by fear as long as ninnies such as the airhead Trudeau seek to curry favour by enabling these abductions, all ‘normal’ citizens of USuk as well as, thanks to the latest case, Canada are now at somewhat greater risk whenever they travel anywhere.

    It is unlikely that unless provoked beyond reason, that China will ‘fit up’ any innocents – the risk of something untoward happening is too great – more importantly, there are vast numbers of genuine if rather common or garden spooks traipsing about the place to keep China’s security structure sufficiently busy without resorting to fit ups.

    The real risk to citizens will come from smaller states whose governments have a need to distract their own citizens. If USuk continue down this foolish path many more innocents abroad will be incarcerated as distraction by spook becomes de rigeur.

  15. James lake says

    What I don’t understand about this case is who did she conspire with?

    An American boyfriend is mentioned Mr Erickson – was he questioned or accused of being in this conspiracy?

    The bank official Mr Torshin why was he not named and accused of this was a conspiracy and she was working with or for him?

    She has been kept in conditions that contravene her human rights.

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  16. Godfree Roberts says

    Ms. Butina got off lightly. The US executes 1,000 of its own citizens each year prior to arrest or trial, and imprisons 2,000,000, 96% without trial.

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    • bevin says

      You are right. And to put it very plainly, of those imprisoned and executed a very large number are tricked or bullied into making plea agreements such as that forced upon the unfortunate Butina. Injustice in the USA is deeply embedded in the culture, four hundred years of Jim Crow, through slavery up to modern policing are both symptoms and contributory causes in a society causes which propelled itself from Atlantic to Pacific by the power of the lynch mob, sanctified by the corruption of law.
      In the meantime the utter hypocrisy of US charges of human rights abuses in anti-imperialist countries has to be understood as originating in the US belief that, bullied enough, men will not only say anything but believe anything, however improbable. It is all part of a world view which holds humanity to be cattle and the economy a slaughterhouse.

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  17. Philpot says

    And what of the Skripals? UK intel either has them under house arrest or under a patio somewhere. Disgraceful. Along with Assange, these make UK just as bad as US. 200 contemptible Tory MPs will support anything and tolerate anything that keeps their noses in the trough.

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    • bevin says

      And almost as many Labour MPs, afraid of being called to account by the membership, will go along with them.

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  18. Einstein says

    Clearly America is the new ‘Soviet Union’.

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    • davem says

      US has always been a version of the Soviet Union / Czarist Russia.
      Ask the Negros, or Native ‘Indians’.
      Just its money / finance/ industry system worked better.

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      • bevin says

        As a matter of fact the Soviet Union, for all its faults,and no doubt well aware of the political implications of its actions, was supportive of the cause of the terrorised black minority in the United States. It was no accident that the centres of anti-communist politics were in the South where the racist authorities were well aware of the threat that popular unity posed to their rule.
        The amazing heroism of black sharecroppers and industrial workers, men and women, in Alabama, between the wars- a story of which ordinary Americans should be proud- owed much to the inspiration of the Communists in Russia,.

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        • Roberto says

          Walter? Walter Durant? NYT here – we’ve been asked to give back your Pulitzer, but can’t seem to find it …

  19. Badger Down says

    “She was awakened every half hour”: That is torture.

    “under suicide watch rules.” That’s a lie. It’s unnecessary. There are many other ways of detecting whether someone has croaked.

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    • harry stotle says

      According to the Guardian “Maria Butina, who built powerful network that reached into Donald Trump’s circle, tried to infiltrate the influential National Rifle Association (NRA) and relay intelligence on American politicians to a Russian government official.”.

      Mind you, these are the very same fuckwits who claimed Paul Manafort shared a t’anta wawa with Julian Assange at Ecuador’s embassy in London even though there was no stamp in Manaforts passport to verify entry into the UK on the dates in question.

      Of course you need investigative journalists rather than corporate hacks to work out that sort of stuff unless your actual agenda is to promote a dangerous form of Russophobia at every opportunity.

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  20. Ole C G Olesen says

    It has become FASHION by the ZIO ANGLOSAXON AUTHORITIES .. simply to Accuse and Imprison Citicens …IN ORDER TO INTIMIDATE …… BUT … The Criminals are the ZIO ANGLOSAXON SWINES in POWER !

  21. harry stotle says

    The US media is now so estranged from reality that it can no longer ditinguish between legitimate visitors and the inappropriate use of paranoid security apperatus to terrify those deemed enemies of neocon hegemony.

    22 hours a day in solitary!
    What sort of people fail to understand the utterly dissproportionate nature of this kind of punishment, assuming any crime has been committed which beyond an administrative failure seems like a remote possibility – maybe nobel prize winner, Obama, will intervene s soon as he has finished shutting down Guitmo?

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  22. summitflyer says

    So they keep someone in jail , without due process ,in solitary confinement ,until they plead guilty .Not so different from the medieval times when they used the rack to force people to admit their guilt ,after which they promptly burned them for witchcraft .Slightly different measures but same tactics.
    Sleazy lowlife comes to mind.

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  23. Gary Weglarz says

    It is clear, and has been for sometime I might add, that we in the U.S. are simply a rogue terror state that considers itself above not only international law but also the American constitution and Federal law. Expecting rational, humane or even sane behavior from U.S. ruling elites is to completely fail to come to terms with this admittedly frightening reality.

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  24. Michael Cromer says

    Terrorists are roaming around Europe seemingly doing as they wish – Freed at the drop of a hat and given funding and the necessary paperwork to go on to their next destination.
    Butina has done virtually nothing to offend anyone and deserves better than this – she has done her time already and should be released before Christmas.

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    • Maxine Chiu says

      “nothing to offend anyone”?….Yes, her illegal prison treatment is abomindable….But she DOES offend ME….Her love for the IRA and guns is disgusting….Just leads to more homegrown terrorists (speaking of terrorists)…. But it is rather shocking that Trump £ Company don’t love her for it.

  25. Tony Kevin says

    Update: Judge Chutkan today approved the agreed plea deal . She set a status conference for 12 February under a single charge of “conspiracy to violate 18 USC § 951 , in violation of 18 USC § 371”, with a sentencing guideline of 0-6 months if Butina is deemed to have sufficiently cooperated with prosecutors’ inquiries. If she is lucky, she could then be released to return home to Russia. Meanwhile, she remains in prison and under duress: American justice.

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