Maria Butina, GTFO!
Maria Butina and her handler via Butina's Twitter

GIRL, BYE! This morning, Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months for failing to register as a foreign agent, after which she'll be deported back to Mother Russia. With credit for time served and good behavior, she might even get home to see the snow falling in Moscow on Christmas Eve, so important for a woman whose devotion to Jesus is only surpassed by her love of heavy weaponry.

Spoken like someone who figured out years ago that the way for Russia to worm itself into American politics was by snuggling up to Jesus and the NRA. Which is very much NOT SPY STUFF, says Butina's attorney Alfred Carry, who argued that his client is but a poor, idealistic student, whose only crime was wanting to unite the countries she so deeply loves.

The Daily Beast reports:

Maria is not a spy. She's not intelligence. She's never been employed by the Russian government. She knows of no secret codes, safehouses, illegals. She has never engaged in covert activity and she has never lied to our government.

Sure she got paid by her Kremlin-backed handler Alexander Torshin to relay home information on how to gain influence with the Republican Party. But she faced "discrimination on the American University campus" when her fellow students found out she was a Russian honeypot, which was very sad. And anyway, if Torshin's goal was to befriend the naive Gippers and persuade them to cancel those pesky Magnitsky sanctions so he and the rest of the oligarchs can continue to torture whistleblowers, steal great chunks of other countries, ratfuck foreign elections, and launder stolen cash into Western banks at will, well, that hardly makes young Maria into Mata Hari, does it?

Except, according to FBI Agent Robert Anderson Jr., Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, it kind of does:

Based on my review of those materials, it is my expert opinion that Mariia Butina's activities in the United States from approximately 2015 to 2017 were part of a deliberate intelligence operation by the Russian Federation. I assess that the main purpose of this operation was to collect in the United States, and then provide to the Russian government, information that the Russian government deemed to be of intelligence value. Based on my review of the information Butina in fact provided the Russian Official, which may have been shared with others within the Russian government, I assess that this information was of substantial intelligence value to the Russian government and that Russian intelligence services will be able to use this information for years to come in their efforts to spot and assess Americans who may be susceptible to recruitment as foreign intelligence assets.

In addition, Butina's stated goal of establishing a backchannel of communication, if it had been achieved, would have benefited the Russian government by enabling Russia to bypass formal channels of diplomacy, win concessions, and exert influence within the United States. Such benefits to the Russian government would have carried with them commensurate harm to the United States, including harm to the integrity of the United States' political processes and internal government dealings, as well as to U.S. foreign policy interests and national security.

Huh, so arranging field trips for Russian "businessmen" to CPAC, the NRA, and the National Prayer breakfast, and friendship-n-free-love tours for NRA bigwigs to Moscow, is actually spying? Well, shit, no wonder Butina's lawyers wanted to exclude Anderson's report.

Would Her Honor perhaps accept an extremely heartfelt apology in lieu of jail time? If so, then Ms. Butina is ready to settle the bill right now and be on her way.

Sadly, Judge Tanya Chutkan was not ready to zero out the tab today. Butina's lawyers had asked for 0-6 months, but the DOJ's request for 18 months followed by immediate deportation won the day. So it looks like Miss Butina will be buying her Lady Clairol Screaming Umber at the commissary for a little while longer.


[Anderson Declaration / BuzzFeed / DB]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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