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Moscow slams USA over arrest of Russian agent

19 July 2018

"For example, on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than US Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization", it continued.

A 29-year-old Russian woman was arrested for "conspiring to influence U.S. politics" by cultivating ties with political groups, including the National Rifle Association.

On Jan. 20, 2017, in response to a photo that Butina sent to Torshin near the U.S. Capitol on Inauguration Day, Torshin allegedly responded: "You're a daredevil girl!"

The arrest of Russian national Maria Butina in the United States was timed to cripple the summit between Russian and U.S. leaders Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in Helsinki, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson found that the Justice Department had demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that nothing short of pretrial confinement could reasonably ensure that Butina would appear for her trial.

If Butina were permitted to remain at liberty, he warned, the Russian government could get her out of the country and the US government might have no way to guarantee that she would appear. In seeking her detention, prosecutors said that her "legal status in the United States is predicated on deception".

A federal grand jury indictment returned on Tuesday accuses Butina of partaking in a Kremlin-directed plot to ingratiate herself with USA political figures in order to convince them to pursue Russian interests.

However, the description of the Russian official closely matches that of Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia's Central Bank who was sanctioned in April.

The 29-year-old is alleged to have been in contact with Russian intelligence officials and spoke to wealthy Russian oligarchs to fund her trip to America, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Butina on Sunday as she was apparently preparing to move to South Dakota.

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Prosecutors also detailed texts between the official and Butina in which the official compares her with Anna Chapman and asks if fans want her autographs yet.

Like Chapman, prosecutors say Butina used sex appeal to further her aims.

Butina came into the country on a student visa to study at American University, but prosecutors allege that it was just a cover so she could infiltrate political organizations and set up a "back channel" for communications between the Kremlin and USA politicians.

Those steps, according to the document, included applying for a visa that would allow her to travel to and from the US; looking into getting a moving truck and purchasing moving boxes; making a wire transfer of $3,500 to an account in Russian Federation; packing up her belongings, and leaving a letter telling her landlord she and US Person 1 would end their lease by the end of July.

Her case was made public Monday mere hours after President Donald Trump stood beside his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, after a joint summit in Helsinki.

A goal was "establishing relationships with American political organizations", including an unnamed "gun rights organization" believed to be the NRA; the original arrest affidavit describes contacts involving GOP officials, the National Prayer Breakfast and CPAC.

Trump has been accused of failing to stand up to the Russian leader over alleged meddling in the 2016 election in the United States, with many USA critics calling him a "traitor". "Happenstance and the (sometimes) global reach for the NRA placed me in a position a couple of years ago to slowly begin cultivating a back-channel to President Putin's Kremlin", he wrote in a May 2016 email to Rick Dearborn, who was a staffer of then-Sen.

The document continued, saying that even if Butina was only planning on leaving the immediate DC area, US Person 1 was her "sole real tie" to the US.

"The concern that Butina poses a risk of flight is only heightened due to her connection to suspected Russian intelligence operatives", prosecutors wrote.

Zakharova added that the Russian authorities were looking to secure access to her.

Moscow slams USA over arrest of Russian agent