Maria Butina, now a member of the Russian parliament, is in the news again, giving an interview defending the Russian military’s killing of Ukrainian civilians by suggesting Ukrainians were bombing themselves. As a reminder, here is a brief overview of her deep connections to the National Rifle Association.
- In April 2019, Butina pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent in the United States after an indictment detailed her alleged involvement in an effort to utilize a “guns right organization” widely understood to be the NRA, among others, in an effort to influence American politics on behalf of the Russian government.
- A 2019 U.S. Senate Finance Committee minority staff report titled “The NRA and Russia: How a Tax-Exempt Organization Became a Foreign Asset” concluded that “the NRA, its officers, board members, and donors engaged in a years-long effort to facilitate the U.S.-based activities of Maria Butina” and Russian government official Alexander Torshin.
- In 2014, Butina joined Torshin, who has since been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, at the NRA’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, getting facetime with top leaders including CEO Wayne LaPierre.
- In 2015, Butina and Torshin again attended the NRA Annual Meeting and later that year, invited NRA leaders, including future NRA President Pete Brownell, to a gun rights conference in Moscow. According to the Senate Finance Committee minority report, “some members of the NRA delegation participated in the Moscow trip primarily or solely for the purpose of advancing personal business interests, rather than advancing the NRA’s tax-exempt purpose.”
- The Senate Finance Committee minority report concluded as well that “NRA executive staff and resources were used to plan the delegation’s travel to Moscow in December 2015.”
- In 2016, Butina and Torshin attended the NRA’s annual meeting again, where Brownell introduced them to Donald Trump, Jr.
- Finally, in 2017, the media began to take notice of Butina’s contacts within Republican circles. Later in the year, Butina reportedly worked with former NRA President David Keene and his wife for a $1 million deal to broker the sale of Russian jet fuel.
The bottom line is that any reporting on Butina’s recent comments on Ukraine should include the role the NRA played in her scandal.