Alleged spy Maria Butina informed Senate panel about backing from Russian billionaire

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Butina made worldwide headlines final week when the Justice Division announced her arrest and a grand jury formally accredited charges of conspiracy and appearing as a international agent. The federal case has added to a rising image of undisclosed international makes an attempt to foyer within the US and alleged Russian affect within the political system.

CNN has reached out to Nikolaev by his firm for remark.

The costs in opposition to her got here after she gained the eye of lawmakers investigating allegations of Russian interference within the 2016 election, and in April, she sat for eight hours of testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Washington Publish first reported on this factor of Butina’s testimony. Moreover, Nikolaev’s son supported President Donald Trump’s candidacy within the 2016 election, the Publish reported, citing an individual aware of his son’s actions, and Nikolaev himself was seen on the Trump Worldwide Resort in Washington throughout Trump’s inauguration, the newspaper mentioned, citing two folks conscious of his presence.

Butina, alongside along with her mentor, Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin, labored for years to ascertain communications within the US for Russia, in line with court docket filings and former CNN reporting, and used the Nationwide Rifle Affiliation as a significant avenue of affect.

Butina, a gun rights activist, based a pro-gun group in Russia referred to as Proper to Bear Arms, which Butina informed the Senate panel was the recipient of Nikolaev’s funding, an individual aware of her testimony informed the Publish.

Nikolaev was in touch with Butina as she launched the group between 2012 and 2014, a spokesman for the billionaire informed the Publish. The spokesman declined to substantiate to the Publish whether or not Nikolaev gave her monetary assist.

Robert Driscoll, Butina’s lawyer, has pushed again strongly on the accusations in opposition to Butina and told CNN on Friday that a lot of the US authorities’s case in opposition to her was “taken fully out of context.”

CNN’s Emma Burrows contributed to this report.



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