Spying on America 🕵️
A Russian spy
Maria Butina, a Russian national, was arrested last week for working as an unlisted foreign agent and violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Butina is alleged to have been working under the direction of the Russian government, while gaining access to US government officials.
Who is Maria Butina?
A 29-year-old Russian gun rights advocate, Butina founded the Russian gun-rights group, The Right to Bear Arms. Butina’s first contact with the NRA was when the organization visited Moscow and met the gun-rights group she founded. Not long after, Butina moved to D.C. and enrolled as a graduate student at American University, where she allegedly gained access to political circles under the direction of the Kremlin.
Mother Jones: The NRA Has Deep Ties to Accused Russian Spy Maria Butina
Washington Post: The NRA connection: A problem for the GOP in the midterms
The right provides light coverage on this story and spins it to focus on Butina’s meetings with Obama administration officials in 2015. The right contends that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss US economic sanctions placed on Russia by the Obama administration. They also point out that the meetings were arranged by the Center for National Interest, a D.C. think-tank that promotes Russian interests.
The left focuses on Butina’s close ties with the NRA (and by extension the GOP). They assert that Butina’s arrest draws attention to Republican campaigns that received NRA donations. They pose the question whether Republicans who took NRA money sourced it from Russian. The left also points out a 2013 video of then-NRA leader David Keene giving a speech in Moscow at a meeting hosted by The Right to Bear Arms, the Russian gun-rights group founded by Butina.
Super spy or witch hunt?
Following her arrest, several stories surrounding Butina have surfaced. From her attendance at the National Prayer Breakfast to allegedly using sex to gain political access. Not much is known yet regarding Butina’s time in Russia besides her work as a gun rights advocate. Both Republicans and Democrats have tried to draw attention to Butina’s ties to individuals from either party – however, it is clear that she met with individuals from both parties. Republican or Democrat, if she really is a Russian agent her priority lies with advancing the Kremlin’s interest.
Spy vs Spy
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