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Diplomat 'outraged' by tightening of prison conditions for Maria Butina

Moscow vows to continue demanding release of the Russian citizen held in the US prison
Maria Butina  AP Photo
Maria Butina
© AP Photo

MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. Moscow is outraged with the new tightening of prison conditions for Russian Maria Butina held in a US prison, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

"We express our deepest indignation with new tightening of prison conditions for Russian citizen Maria Butina, who was arrested in the US last summer under fabricated charges and whom we treat as a political detainee," she said.

"All the introduced restrictions provide for total isolation for 22 hours per day," Zakharova added. The diplomat explained that the Russian may leave the cell, make calls and stay in common premises only for two hours a day solely at night.

"It definitely negatively affects her health, not just in connection with individual peculiarities. That said, she is not receiving quality medical treatment. On November 27, Russian diplomats visited Maria Butina, expressed resolute protest to the prison management and demanded that violence against Butina be stopped," Zakharova went on to say, reiterating that on November 27 the Russian side sent a strict note to the US Department of State on this situation.

According to Zakharova, Moscow regards such actions of US authorities as a tool for exerting pressure over the Russian citizen ahead of a court session scheduled for December 19.

"We will definitely continue to demand the release of the Russian citizen who is a victim of direct lawlessness. Maria Butina is not just a political detainee. Today we can affirm that she is a hostage of US authorities. She is a hostage for one purpose - for manipulation in political goals," Zakharova concluded.

Butina was arrested in Washington on July 15 ahead of the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in Helsinki. The Russian is charged with participation in a plot aimed at conducting activities on US territory for the benefit of a foreign state. The US intelligence services also state that the Russian carried this activity while being registered with the US Department of Justice as a foreign state agent. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov demanded Butina’s urgent release and called charges against her fabricated in a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo held on July 21.