I’m Just Saying: Lock her up

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 20, 2018

Perhaps it’s the John La Carre in me, but I love a good spy story.

Maybe not so much when it appears the spy has been hiding in plain sight within our country, but the good news is that Maria Butina, charged with conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent (that would be a spy) for Russia, now sits in jail.


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It was her unmissable Boris and Natasha voice that twigged a sense of familiarity in my brain. Where had I heard her before…ah, yes, the whole gun thing.

Maria’s Wikipedia page informs us that she is a gun rights activist and founder of “Right to Bear Arms,” a Russian gun rights group. Except there are no “rights” to bear arms in Russia, as there is no Second Amendment.

As especially Maria knows, the last thing Vladimir Putin allows under his authoritarian rule is any easing of his heavily regulated gun laws, in which it is very difficult to acquire a hand gun. Smooth-bore shotguns or rifles, for sport or self-defense, are acceptable after an individual takes a gun-safety course, completes a federal test with a renewable license and sails through a thorough background check.

But it’s safe to say that the former KGB authoritarian who has arrested and assassinated both journalists and political foes ain’t on board with any national movement for lifting gun restrictions. Opposition politician, Alexey Navalny, personally found this to be the case when his own two rifles were seized after he was connected with anti-Kremlin protests.

As a matter of fact, Butina’s “movement” consists of approximately 400 members and is far less a political undertaking than it is a social one. She has spoken before the Russian senate, was promptly denied, perhaps because Putin, as voiced by former KGB officer and opposition parliamentarian, Gennady Gudkov, remarked, is “afraid of his own people.”

Somehow along the way, unless it was the plan all along, Butina went from butting heads against the Russian government to actively working for them. Who knows where she was in her political development when she requested and received John Bolton’s assistance in 2013 to create a pro-gun rights PSA in Moscow.

It’s easily found on YouTube, and one wonders if perhaps Bolton felt an armed Russian public would indeed be Putin’s biggest fear, although even he would surely realize it would never materialize.

While in America, Maria found it easy to penetrate the inner circles of Washington, even posing as a journalist and asking then-candidate Trump during a 2015 press conference what were his intentions regarding proposed foreign policy towards Russia. She was photographed with notable politicians: Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and the National Rifle Association’s Wayne Lapierre.

She was well aware, uncovered emails now show, in the affidavit filed in federal court, as she communicated with “U.S. Person 1” of how members of the Russian delegation who attended the National Prayer Breakfast were “handpicked” by a senior Russian official and were “VERY influential in Russia.”

The affidavit continues that her emails explained that the delegation was coming to “establish a back channel of communication” and asked if another person, identified as “U.S. Person 2,” would want to meet with them. As of this writing,  those “persons” have not been named.

Earlier this week, Maria was quickly arrested as she was considered to be a flight risk. Indeed, according to prosecutors, both her boxes and suitcases were packed when they moved in to make the arrest.

Updated court filings charged that Butina allegedly “gained access” to “an extensive network of U.S. persons in positions to influence political activities in the United States” by living with and having a personal relationship with another individual.

She is also accused of offering to have sex in order to gain a job.

The United States Department of Justice charges that the dogmatic redhead is accused of conspiring to infiltrate American political organizations, including the NRA, at the direction of a senior Kremlin officials “over a course of years.” 

On Wednesday, before she was ordered to stand before the judge in federal court, Maria requested she be allowed to make that appearance in “civilian clothes.” 

Er, no.

Sorry Natasha, Orange is the new black.

Even if it clashes with your hair.