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Russian national Butina talks about harsh conditions in US prison

April 30, 20:32 UTC+3 MOSCOW

She noted that currently, she is held in an ordinary cell with phone privileges

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© EPA-EFE/Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation

MOSCOW, April 30. /TASS/. Russian citizen Maria Butina, sentenced to 18 months in a US prison, told reporters about the harsh conditions of her detention at a US facility during Tuesday’s phone call with journalists.

"There was no torture, but I really was held in isolation for a long time. The first 35 days in a Washington prison, then (after a two-month break) 35 days in isolation in the Alexandria jail, then 38 more days. For 22 hours, I was locked alone in my cell. For two hours at night, from 1am to 3am, I was given time for a shower, to use my phone - absolutely anything," she said.

Butina added that food was delivered directly to her cell. "This is rather unpleasant and tough psychologically," she stated.

The Russian national noted that currently, she is held in an ordinary cell with phone privileges.

"For the most part, we are in a common area of our unit. I can communicate with other prisoners without any problems," she added.

On April 26, a court in Washington sustained the prosecution’s request for sentencing Butina to 18 months behind bars. Judge Tanya Chutkan ignored the defense lawyers’ request that Butina should be sentenced to a term equal to the period she had already spent in custody.

Butina’s case

Maria Butina, 30, was arrested in Washington DC on July 15, right before the Helsinki meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump. The US Department of Justice said that she was suspected of acting "as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with US persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation."

On December 13, Butina pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to violate the US law governing foreign agents operating in the country and signed a plea agreement. The prosecution said at the time that the process of Butina’s cooperation with the investigation might take some time.

Butina had arrived in the United States for a course of studies. Last spring she obtained a master’s degree at American University, where she studied international relations.

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