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"I destroyed my own life": Maria Butina is very sorry she conspired to influence the U.S. election

The pro-gun, alleged Russian agent is going to jail for 18 months.

by Emma Ockerman
Apr 26 2019, 4:17pm

Maria Butina — the pro-gun, alleged Russian agent — is heading to jail. And she’s very sorry that she conspired to influence U.S. politics by cozying up to conservatives.

“My parents discovered my arrest on the morning news they watch in their rural house in a Siberian village,” Butina said before a Washington, D.C., federal judge sentenced her to 18 months in prison Friday, according to the Daily Beast. “I love them dearly, but I harmed them morally and financially. They are suffering from all of that. I destroyed my own life as well. I came to the United States not under any orders, but with hope, and now nothing remains but penitence.”

Because the 30-year-old has already served time in jail while awaiting her sentencing date, she’ll likely serve about nine more months behind bars. She could also be deported after her sentence is over, according to the Washington Post.

Butina did a lot to get to this point. She pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent in December and thus became the first Russian citizen convicted in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Butina first came to the U.S. to enroll at American University and later became close to people within the National Rifle Association. Butina said she acted under the direction of a Russian official widely identified as Alexander Torshin, then a Russian Central Bank official and lifetime NRA member.

Butina traveled around the country meeting gun rights activists and conservatives and was even able to quiz then-candidate Donald Trump about his views on Russia in 2015. She allegedly had a romantic relationship with Paul Erickson, a South Dakota-based, Republican political adviser and former campaign manager to Pat Buchanan.

But Butina did not register as a foreign agent with the U.S. Justice Department, despite carrying out plans prosecutor Erik Kenerson described as “of extreme importance to the Russian Federation.” She said she didn’t know she was breaking the law, and her lawyer continued to argue Friday that she’s not a Russian spy.

Cover image: In this photo taken on Sunday, April 22, 2012, Maria Butina, a gun-rights activist, poses for a photo at a shooting range in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)