As Siberian gun rights activist Maria Butina faces a hearing in Washington, here is a look at the unusual path that led to her arrest.
She’s accused of working as an undeclared foreign agent, based on FBI suspicions that she and patron Alexander Torshin sought to infiltrate the NRA and build a long-term influence campaign with the American right. She has pleaded not guilty.
Torshin is elected to serve in Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council. He makes his first contact with the NRA.
Butina moves to Moscow, funded by an oligarch couple, and forms gun rights group Right to Bear Arms. Torshin and Butina meet at Moscow gun rally.
Torshin presents draft bill on liberalizing gun sales, crafted in part by Butina. It fails miserably, lacking support from President Vladimir Putin.
Torshin attends NRA convention in St. Louis, and goes to Nashville to observe the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Torshin attends NRA convention in Houston in May. Three months later, Spanish police try and fail to arrest Torshin for alleged connections to organized crime; Torshin denies wrongdoing.
In October, an NRA delegation including then-chief David Keene visits Russia for a conference organized by Butina’s group Right to Bear Arms. Butina meets Torshin’s NRA contacts.
Butina goes to the U.S. for the first time, and she and Torshin attend an NRA convention in Indianapolis. She resigns as leader of Right to Bear Arms.
Torshin leaves parliament to become deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank; Butina becomes his assistant.
Butina and Torshin attend an NRA convention in Nashville; Torshin says he met Donald Trump there. Butina questions Trump at Freedomfest gun show in Las Vegas.
NRA delegation visits Moscow on Butina’s invitation, meets Torshin, oligarchs, top officials.
Butina and Torshin attend National Prayer Breakfast, and Torshin attends NRA convention in Louisville where he says he met Donald Trump Jr.
Butina starts masters program at AU. She and Torshin exchange messages about contacts with Russian intelligence, and a “back channel” to U.S. right wing, according to the FBI.
Butina, in Washington, joins celebrations of Trump’s inauguration. She and Torshin attend National Prayer Breakfast.
Senate questions Butina in April, and her apartment is searched by FBI. Torshin is hit with US sanctions. Butina is arrested July 15.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.