All news

Lavrov explains reasons behind Maria Butina's plea deal

Ryssia's top diplomat believes Maria Butina did this "to get a chance to be released as soon as possible and return to her homeland"
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov  Sergei Savostyanov/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
© Sergei Savostyanov/TASS

BAKU, December 14. /TASS/. Russian Maria Butina made a plea deal with the US justice to get a chance to be released as soon as possible and return to her homeland, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

"As far as I understand, the essence of this deal with the justice - this practice is usual chiefly in the US - was to manage to get a chance to be released as soon as possible and return to homeland," the minister said.

He noted that Russian diplomats visited Butina on Thursday. "She is still being held in very non-standard conditions, conditions which are usually used against extremely dangerous criminals. We again demanded that she be transferred to a general confinement room," Lavrov pointed out. "She said that she was not under pressure and that she voluntarily pled guilty to one of the charges brought against her - a collusion in an attempt to influence something."

"I understand this woman: she is staying in the most difficult conditions and faced specific kind of tortures for months: they either forcibly wake her up and let her walk in the night or place her in a solitary confinement cell, and so on. I have reasons to assume that the goal of the [detention] conditions that were created for her was to break her will and make her admit to something that she most probably did not commit," Lavrov pointed out.

"However, it is her fate, her decision. We will do everything to provide the rights of our citizen and enable her return home as soon as possible," the foreign minister stated.

On Thursday, Butina pled guilty under one of the charges on collision aimed at the violation of the laws on foreign agents in the US. She earlier signed documents on a deal with the prosecutors. The court accepted the confession and scheduled the next session under the case for February 12. The date of the sentencing was not announced because of a prosecutor who said that Butina agreed to cooperate with the investigators, and this process may take some time.

Butina case

Butina was arrested in Washington on July 15, ahead of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump in Helsinki. The 30-year-old Russian was charged with collusion for conducting activity on US territory to benefit the Russian government. In addition, the American intelligence service state that the Russian conducted this activity without being registered with the US Department of Justice as an agent of a foreign state.

In a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on July 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov demanded that Butina be released from custody as soon as possible and called the accusations against her fabricated.

Butina came to the US to study. She received a master’s degree at the American University, where she studied foreign affairs.