Time to Revisit the Maria Butina Case

by | Apr 12, 2023


Yesterday, I wrote about the concocted, made-up, fake crime that US officials used to incarcerate Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for some 14 years of his life, until he secured his freedom from incarceration in the trade with accused drug-law violator Brittney Griner. 

Unfortunately, however, Bout isn’t the only Russian citizen who US officials have targeted as part of their long-term plan to restore hostile relations with Russia and reinvigorate their old but lucrative Cold War racket against Russia.

There is also Maria Butina, the young Russian woman who was targeted with arrest, prosecution, incarceration, and deportation for having the audacity to enter the United States with the intent of establishing good relations between the United States and Russia. The Pentagon and the CIA needed the Justice Department to teach this Russian woman a lesson, one that could be used against everyone else who dared to foil the US scheme to restore hostile relations with Russia and reinvigorate the old Cold War racket against Russia.

Butina was born in 1988. According to Wikipedia, “She graduated with honors at the age of 17 from Gymnasium Number 22 with in-depth study of the English language, and from school years she strove for active public activity. She studied political science at Altai State University and also received a teaching degree. At age 19, she was elected to the public council of Altai Krai in the last direct election for the council.”

In 2011, she founded a Russian gun-rights organization called Right to Bear Arms. The right to keep and bear arms was not a popular position among the Russian populace. Even Russian president Vladimir Putin declared his opposition to gun rights. Expressing the same perspective as American leftists, Putin stated, “I am deeply convinced that the free flow of firearms will bring a great harm and represents a great danger for us.”

Wikipedia points out that in 2016, Butina came to the United States on a student visa and entered the graduate program in International Relations at American University in Washington, D.C. In 2018, she completed a master’s program.

During the time she was a student, she engaged in political activities designed to improve relations between Russia and the United States. Little did she know that her activities ran counter to what the Pentagon and the CIA had been planning for a long time. She clearly had to be dealt with.

On July 15, 2018, when Butina was about 30 years old, FBI agents arrested her and charged her with the heinous crime of operating as an “unregistered agent” of the Russian government. 

No, not espionage, like Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been charged with by Russian officials. 

And no, not a violation of the Trading with the Enemy Act, the old World War I statute that is still on the books. 

And no, she wasn’t even charged with operating as an agent of the Russian government. 

She was simply charged with failing to “register” with US officials as an agent of the Russian government.

To prove that Butina was an extremely dangerous person, US officials claimed that she had “infiltrated” the National Rifle Association on behalf of the Russian government. Wow! Is that scary or what? Of course, it was never made clear what the Russian government hoped to accomplish with this supposed “infiltration,” especially since Putin opposed gun rights and Butina favored them. But logic has never been the strong suit of US officials when it comes to the Russkies, the Chinese Reds, the Cuban commies, or any other old Cold War enemy, adversary, opponent, or rival.

I suppose I should point out that the FBI also accused Butina of successfully establishing ties with the Republican Party. Imagine that! Wow! Is that scary or what? According to Wikipedia “At the 2014 NRA annual meeting, Butina took pictures with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former US Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Rick Santorum. At the 2015 NRA annual meeting, she met Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and in July 2015, she was present at the launch of Walker’s 2016 presidential campaign.”

Do you see why they needed to target this woman with criminal prosecution? She was clearly dangerous, especially with her efforts to establish good relations between the United States and Russia but also possibly with making the NRA more hard-core with respect to its positions on gun rights.

After her arrest on July 18, 2018, a federal judge granted the government’s request that she be jailed pending her trial. On December 13, 2019, Butina pled guilty to “conspiracy” to act as an illegal agent of Russia. No, not acting as an illegal agent of Russia and not even failing to register as an agent of Russia. This time, the offense was “conspiracy” to act as an illegal agent of Russia.

My hunch is that federal prosecutors engaged in their standard practice of threatening her with an extremely long jail sentence if she didn’t plead guilty. In fact, Butina herself later said that she had been forced to take the plea deal. On April 2019, she was sentenced to 18 months in jail. Yes, a year and half in jail for her “heinous” crime of “conspiring” to serve as an illegal Russian agent, during which time US prison officials subjected her to four months of solitary confinement, a severe type of mistreatment that is a core feature of the prison in which Gershkovich is being held.

According to Wikipedia, for his part, Putin said he had had no knowledge of the 30-year-old Butina. Leonid Slutsky, head of the lower house of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, called Butina’s case a “modern political inquisition.” Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign-ministry spokesperson, stated that “having created unbearable conditions for her and threatening her with a long jail sentence, she was literally forced to sign up to absolutely ridiculous charges.”

I could be wrong, but to my knowledge, none of the US mainstream press ever came to the defense of Maria Butina, as they are now doing with Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. That’s because of the long-time, customary deference of the US mainstream press to the majesty, power, and authority of the Pentagon and the CIA. Of course, the Russian mainstream press is no different. It too displays the same long-time, customary deference to the majesty, power, and authority of the Russian national-security establishment. 

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.


  • Jacob G. Hornberger

    Jacob George Hornberger is an American attorney, author, and politician who was a Libertarian candidate for president in 2000 and 2020. He is the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

    View all posts