Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated that Moscow will continue supporting Russian national Maria Butina even after her deal with a US court.
“I understand this woman, she is under the hardest conditions, she has been subjected to some kind of torture for many months: she is allowed to walk in the middle of the night, they are forcibly interrupting her sleep, then placing her in an insulator, well, and much more", he told reporters, saying that all these actions were done to “break” Butina and force her to confess to something she had not done.
The plea deal Butina has agreed to is aimed at being released sooner, according to Lavrov.
“As far as I understand, the whole point of this deal with justice — this practice is characteristic primarily of the United States — was to bargain for the opportunity to get free and return home as soon as possible", said the minister.
He explained that Russian diplomats had visited Butina the day before.
"She's still being held in very non-standard conditions, those in which extremely dangerous habitual offenders are usually held. We requested once again her transfer to a mass cell. She said that she had experienced no pressure, and that she voluntarily pleaded guilty to one count: conspiracy aimed at influencing something", Lavrov said.
Moscow has complained of Butina's treatment various times and reiterated the complaints on 12 December after diplomats visited her in prison. In a statement after the visit, Moscow noted that she had been held in isolation for 22 hours a day. The Russian Foreign Ministry has called for the immediate release of the Russian citizen.
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US authorities arrested Butina in mid-July. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stated that the charges against Butina were groundless and trumped-up and called her ongoing detention unacceptable.