Butina's Arrest Is Nonsense: Many US Citizens Lobby in Russia - Analyst

© REUTERS / Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian FederationPublic figure Maria Butina delivers a speech during a rally to demand the expanding of rights of Russian citizens, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on July 17, 2018
Public figure Maria Butina delivers a speech during a rally to demand the expanding of rights of Russian citizens, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on July 17, 2018 - Sputnik International
A Russian national has been charged in Washington accused of being an agent of the Russian Federation at the same time as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin were meeting in Helsinki, a summit that has angered American politicians.

Maria Butina was charged Monday by the US Department of Justice with conspiring to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States, a criminal allegation that may be designed to draw attention away from Monday’s meeting between the US and Russian heads of state.

The charges are not related to the Mueller probe that is examining alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. She allegedly worked at the direction of a high-level Kremlin official. Sputnik spoke to political commentator Joe Quinn about the fallout from the Putin/Trump summit.

Russian student Mariia Butina was arrested on July 16 over allegations she failed to register as a foreign agent. - Sputnik International
Butina's Arrest 'An Attempt to Tar NRA With a Russian Connection' – Author
Sputnik: What do you make of the arrest situation in Washington of Maria Butina, the accusations and the motivations behind it?

Joe Quinn: Well this is another nothing burger, like CNN described the Russian hacking of the US election. Given the timing it’s an attempt to push the attempted reality of alleged interference in the US election. The story of this Butina woman are two a penny in Western politics and what she’s doing is called lobbying and getting access to politicians to push particular policies.

The accusations that she was working for the Kremlin appears to be baseless, it’s the idea that any lobbyist in any country, any one working to influence politician’s in any country only ever work for foreign governments. That’s obvious nonsense.

There’s probably dozens of American citizens in Russia attempting garner the same kind of influence she has done.

Sputnik: The US president has also come under scrutiny in America following the Helsinki summit, how could this impact the President and Washington’s interactions with Moscow?

Joe Quinn: To say he’s come under scrutiny or this summit yesterday has come under scrutiny is a bit of an understatement. This brief meeting of two hours that he had with Putin has been met with such a level of screaming and baying at the moon, from the usual suspects you’d think we’re back in the heyday of the McCarthy days.

Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted yesterday in all seriousness that the football that Putin gave to Trump just at the end of their meeting was probably carrying a listening device and should not be taken to the White House. You don’t know what to say to that sort of thing.

A helicopter view of the US Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (File) - Sputnik International
Russian Student Arrested in Washington DC, Charged as Foreign Agent
Sputnik: The international accusations against Russia are mounting with the US elections, meddling and the Skripal case but with lack of evidence is the Western continuing anti-Russian rhetoric damaging any hope of improving international relations?

Joe Quinn: I don’t think that its damaging any hop, it’s damaging them, but I don’t think any hope. Ultimately I think this campaign that’s been waged is not going to be successful.

The problem for them is history is not on their side, they’re not fighting a war or a propaganda war against Russia but against reality. The world has changed, radically most people would have recognised that it’s changed radically in the last 20 years and that change has only really just begun.

The views and opinions expressed by Joe Quinn are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik.


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