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Butina’s verdict ‘ugly stain’ on US justice system — Russian foreign ministry

The Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow  Valery Sharifulin/TASS
The Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, April 26. /TASS/. The verdict by a US court sentencing Russian national Maria Butina to 18 months behind bars is an "ugly stain" on the US justice system, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

"We consider the decision by a Washington court to sentence Maria Butina to 18 months behind bars as politically motivated," the ministry stressed. "This sentence is an ugly stain on the American justice system, which has followed a blatant political order to the letter," the Russian diplomats added.

"Our compatriot has been sentenced just for her being a Russian citizen. She has become a victim of tight rivalry between various US political forces and the unbridled anti-Russian campaign in the spirit of McCarthyism," the commentary added.

The ministry reminded that since Butina’s detention, Russia has been confident that all accusations against Butina are "fully fictional and fabricated", adding that her plea deal had been made under pressure and does not change the situation.

Earlier on Friday, 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.