On Tuesday, Maria Butina, the 30-year-old Russian gun rights activist and Kremlin stooge who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges earlier this month, was sworn in as an official member of Russia’s State Duma, where she will hold the seat of the independent Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
“Proud to serve my country @AlegresNatalia @SDMPress#SDMPrait,” Ms. Butina wrote on Twitter, alongside a photo of her taking a seat in the nation’s lower house of parliament.
Maria Butina, 30, became a household name in the United States after she was arrested in July as part of an investigation into her alleged connections to Russia’s military intelligence unit, the GRU. In the weeks leading up to her July arrest, Ms. Butina had traveled to the U.S. seeking to organize a pro-gun rights event with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 Republican National Convention. This dream event was interrupted, however, when FBI agents arrested Ms. Butina. The agents had intercepted emails and phone calls with American conservative activists, whom she had connected to a Kremlin “organization to strengthen ties between Russia and the United States,” according to the federal complaint against her.
At her initial court appearance, Ms. Butina appeared clean-shaven and dressed in a navy blazer with a baby blue shirt underneath. Her mother was in the audience; Mr. Putin did not attend the proceedings.
When Ms. Butina pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, the Washington D.C. federal judge overseeing her case granted her bail, allowing her to leave jail for an interview with NBC News. However, she was not allowed to leave the country, and her travel restrictions were imposed until March 30, 2018.
An unnamed Russian lawyer had signed her release, agreeing to finance her travel to the United States, according to the complaint filed against her. Ms. Butina, who claims to be a conservative Republican activist who wants to work with the Republican Party, wrote on her Facebook page that she was making the trip to work on her speaking schedule at the National Rifle Association (NRA) and for other conservative media platforms. Her trip to the United States, however, was to earn money, she admitted in court.
After last week’s plea, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered that she refrain from doing anything “relevant or actionable” with plans to hold a gun rights rally on Aug. 19, which fell on the third anniversary of the shooting death of U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Her lawyer, Kevin Ring, had questioned whether the request for bail “was rooted in any principled analysis of the law.”
When asked about her plans for the NRA event on her Instagram account, Ms. Butina replied: “#SDMPress #DLP #LDP_abroad #TENDAWN @SDMPress @SDMPress #ArmedForFreedom”
Preliminary evidence: A conservative, pro-gun school shooting from Russia
Radical Russian student jailed in U.S. for allegedly trying to help Putin