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Russian woman arrested in US faces charges with two offenses

It is expected that the judge will read out the indictment to Maria Butina in the courtroom on Wednesday

WASHINGTON, July 18. /TASS/. Russian citizen Maria Butina, whom the US authorities arrested in Washington on July 15 faces charges with two offenses, suggests the indictment published in the database of the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Americans charge Butina, 29, a gun rights activist, with conspiracy for conducting unregistered activities in the interests of a foreign state and effectuation of these activities.

Specifically it says that Butina, who entered the US in August 2016 on a student visa, declared on her visa application that she had been previously employed as a special assistant to a Russian government official but employment ended in May 2016. The indictment claims further that in reality, however, "[…] Butina continued to act under the direction and control of the Russian official for the purpose of advancing interests of the Russian Federation after she entered the US."

According to the document, the ‘official’ in question, "whose identity is known to the grand jury", held a high-level position in the Russian government. Later on, he became "[…] a top official at the Russian Central Bank."

"At no time was Butina a duly accredited diplomatic or consular officer; an officially and publicly acknowledged and sponsored official or representatives of the Russian Federation […]," the indictment said. "At no time did Butina notify the Attorney General […] that she would and did act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government and official."

The court went on to say that "Butina and others known and unknown to the grand jury, including the Russian official, knowingly did combine, conspire, confederate, and agree together and with each other to commit and offense against the United States."

The scope of objectives of this alleged conspiracy included "to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government, specifically the Russian Federation, without prior notification to the Attorney General", to exploit personal connections with US persons having influence in American politics in an effort to advance the interests of the Russian Federation, and to infiltrate organizations active in American politics.

It is expected that the judge will read out the indictment to Butina in the courtroom on Wednesday.

Reports on Butina’s detention came on Monday. They said Butina might face up to five years in jail but she would have the non-guilty status until her guilt is proved.

"Maria Butina is not an agent of the Russian Federation," Robert N. Driscoll, her lawyer, said in a statement on Monday. "She is a Russian national in the United States on a student visa who recently graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. with a Masters Degree in International Relations and 4.0 grade point average."

He indicated that his client had never tried to wield impact on policies in the US in one way or another or to undermine them, and the charges the authorities had brought on were overblown.

Driscoll also mentioned her voluntary testimony to a US Senate committee and the thousands of documents she submitted to it when the local authorities showed interest towards her activities several months ago.

By the time of reporting, Driscoll did not answer additional questions from TASS.