11:49 GMT14 May 2021
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    The ministry also replaced its Twitter profile picture with Butina’s portrait.

    The Twitter account for Russia's Foreign Ministry has changed its profile picture and launched a new hashtag, calling for the freedom of Russian national Maria Butina, who has been detained in the US over allegations that she acted as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.

    The tweet only consists of two hashtags: #NewProfilePic and #FreeMariaButina.

    ​Earlier on Thursday, representatives of the Russian Embassy in the United States visited Butina, who is still in custody, charged with conspiring to act as a foreign agent in the United States and acting as a foreign agent without registering with the US Department of Justice — two felony charges she has repeatedly denied.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zaharova said Butina was detained right before the summit between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, and that the timing of her arrest was intended to disrupt the meeting and chill its atmosphere.

    "It seems that the FBI is conducting a political put-up job instead of carrying out its duty to fight crime," Zakharova said, noting that the news of Butina's arrest was received "mildly speaking, with anxiety."

    "For our part, we are taking all possible measures to defend the legitimate rights and interests of the Russian citizen," she pointed out.

    Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday that the Russian Embassy in the United States was doing everything in its power to arrange a meeting with Butina and solve her problem as quickly as possible.


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