Like many others I had never heard of Maria Butina until she was arrested and imprisoned. She is apparently being held in solitary confinement (23 hours a day without contact) in the Alexandria Detention Centre near Washington. As if that is not punishment enough she is allegedly being tortured using sleep-deprivation techniques. This is what it is believed in some quarters that led to a confession of guilt for not having registered with the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 – which so many other foreign nationals did not realise was a prerequisite in the land of the “free”.
Do I support her campaigns? No. Do I think she is an agent or officer of Russian intelligence? No. Whatever the real reasons for her arrest it is impossible to say. The fact that she aligns with the Trump camp and gun-law lobby suggests an attempt by the NSA, not for the first time, to smear the President. Way back in 2012 she founded a Russian gun-law group “Right to Bear Arms” following yet another US massacre. To my mind these US massacres demonstrate why the gun-lobby is so wrong. They do not happen in civilised countries unless somebody has got access to a gun.
There are unanswered questions but her actions, especially regarding gun-laws for Russia, ought to make her a darling of the USA. She courted the very people funded by the west to overthrow Putin, including Alexei Navalny, who encouraged his 220,000 Twitter followers to support her gun-law rally, though he did not go himself.
Being banged up in some hell-hole for being young, female and Russian appears to be the modus operandi of modern-day western governments. Few are asking – and those that are will not get answers – about the whereabouts of Yulia Skripal, abducted by UK intelligence without trial and never heard of since. Is she alive? Is she in prison? Where is she?
Yulia Skripal’s last desire was to return to her native Russia when her father, Russian agent Sergei Skripal, had recovered. Is he still ill? She made this plea above seven months ago. We don’t hear about the Novichok farce these days. Yulia and Sergei Skripal have vanished. Since the Novichok incident they have never been interviewed by a single UK or other journalist. They are almost certainly dead.
The following reply is from a comment by Kerri L. Smith Bruss on FB. It contains a Spreaker programme from Radio Sputnik on the Maria Butina imprisonment and what is wrong with it. It also asks the pertinent question as to why Women’s groups aer not up in arms about this miscarriage of justice.
Thanks for this piece, John Goss. Could not agree more. US media presents Butina as a nefarious Russian agent (i.e. spy) when she was not charged with nor did she plead guilty to espionage; rather she did so to a nothing burger charge of failing to register as a foreign lobbyist. Even that is a stretch and likely only arrived at as a result of coercion and ongoing abuse. She didn’t sign a form; big effing deal. Let her sign it and let her get on with her life.
Seriously. They have lied about her, defamed her character, kept her in isolation, abused her with repeated body cavity searches, dehumanized her, and ultimately broke her all in hopes of connecting her in the public’s mind with Trump and Russiagate. How can anyone cheer on this gross abuse of state power? Why are all the typically vocal Women’s Rights or Humanitarian Advocates suddenly so silent?
I do not believe for one minute that she was acting on the orders of the Kremlin or along any such lines. I see her behavior as more culturally motivated, as opposed to nefarious. She was a gun rights activist at home and that carried over here.
And as I indicated above I see her continued abusive detainment and prosecution as an extreme over reach of state power with the goal of furthering the Russiagate narrative as well as the ongoing demonization of Russia in general.
As Dan Kovalik, the human rights and labor lawyer attests to in the interview I link to below (torture whistleblower John Kiriakou also weighs in), foreign lobbyists are very common and often do not register as such, yet the typical response is to have them sign the form and everyone moves on. The only reason Butina’s situation got so blown out of proportion in mho is because she hails from Siberia and the powers that be opted to use her for their own nefarious purposes.
I also appreciated your commentary re: Yulia and Sergei Skripal, whose whereabouts as you mentioned remain unknown. Just another story that has fallen down the rabbit hole, sigh.