Russian agent Maria Butina sentenced to 18 months

A federal judge on Friday ordered Russian agent Maria Butina to serve 18 months in prison, the term demanded by federal prosecutors in the case.

Butina, who was arrested in 2018, had pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of the Russian government. She will get credit for nine months she has already served in prison.

Butina, dressed in a green prison uniform and wearing her long red hair down, had no visible reaction as she received her sentence.

Butina's attorneys, pointing to her having been incarcerated for roughly nine months, asked that she be sentenced to no additional prison time and instead be immediately deported back to Russia.

District Judge Tanya Chutkan said during the hearing that there was "no doubt" that the 30-year-old Russian national was kind and hardworking, and that Butina had "suffered greatly" due to the high-profile nature of the case.

But she rejected the argument put forward by Butina's attorneys that the woman was not working on behalf of the Russian government, but was rather attempting to help rehabilitate relations between the U.S. and Moscow.

Chuktan said that Butina's conduct "was no mere failure" to register as a foreign agent, and that she was able to establish contacts "precisely because she did not reveal herself to be a foreign agent."

And she characterized Butina's actions as having the potential to "jeopardize national security."

The 2018 arrest of the Russian national captured international attention, as it played out on the background of increased concerns over the Kremlin's attempts to interfere in and influence U.S. politics.
Butina was not mentioned in special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Butina delivered a remorseful statement of apology to Chutkan ahead of her sentence, depicting herself as someone devoted to both the U.S. and Russia.

She said that she wanted "to build bridges between the motherland, and the country I grew to love."

"The U.S. has always been kind to me," Butina said, "and it was never my intent to harm the American people."

However, she acknowledged that her failure to register as a foreign agent had hurt the U.S. And she noted that her high-profile arrest and case had "ironically" damaged other attempts to improve U.S.-Russia relations.

"I have three degrees, but I am now a convicted felon with no job, no money and no freedom," Butina said.
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

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