MOSCOW, August 6. /TASS/. Head of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky has asked at a meeting with visiting US Senator Rand Paul for his assistance in resolving the situation with Russian national Maria Butina arrested in the US.
"We ask you to help in the situation with Butina who was arrested on trumped-up charges for no good reason. She is facing grave accusations, she has been placed into custody,’ he said.
"We are grateful for your unchanged rhetoric in favor of dialogue with Russia. Today she [Butina] is accused of failing to register as a foreign agent, but her activities in an American NGO did not imply such a mandatory registration," Slutsky added.
He assured the US senator that Russia is ready to provide all data concerning this case. "If you raise your voice in Butina’s defense, in favor of at least changing her pre-trial restriction, that is, release from custody and an opportunity to return to her home country, you will show yourself as a person with a big heart," Slutsky said.
Maria Butina, 29, was arrested in Washington on July 15, on the eve of the Helsinki summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump. The Russian gun rights activist faces the charges of conspiracy for conducting activities in the interests of a foreign state. The investigators claim she engaged in these activities without registering as a foreign agent at the US Department of Justice.
The FBI said Butina entered the US in August 2016 on a student visa and took up studies at the American University. She received the master’s degree in international relations in May 2018, according to her lawyer.
On July 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov demanded Butina’s immediate release in his telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressing that charges against her were fabricated.