14:50 GMT +311 December 2019
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    In this photo taken on Sunday, April 21, 2013, Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia

    Russian Envoy on Butina's Arrest: US Intel 'Hunting' for Russians Abroad

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    Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has commented on the situation in relations between Russia and the United States in light of the arrest of Maria Butina and the Russia-US Summit in Helsinki.

    Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said that Russian embassy is taking every possible step to solve the problem of Maria Butina’s detention in the US as soon as possible.

    "There is nothing new in this case. The US intelligence services hunt for Russian citizens not only in the US, but also in other countries," Antonov said.

    The US government announced on Monday that Maria Butina had been accused of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Moscow. With the latest additional alleged crime, Butina is seen by US authorities as having materially acted as a foreign agent in addition to conspiring to be one.

    READ MORE: "Russian Agent" Arrested in US Was Endorsed by Anti-Putin Opposition

    Russian officials have been demanding consular access to Butina.

    According to the indictment, from 2015 until at least February 2017, Butina worked "at the behest of a high-ranking official of the Russian government who used to be a member of the Russian parliament and then became a high-ranking representative in the Central Bank of Russia" and is under sanctions. According to the Ministry of Justice, Butina wanted to "use personal contacts with US persons influencing American policy", "establish informal contacts" and "penetrate into organizations acting in US policy" in order to promote Russia's interests, the court document said.

    Butina, a longtime advocate of gun rights in Russia and a recent graduate of DC's American University, where she studied international relations, is believed to have worked with the US National Rifle Association (NRA).

    Russia-US Summit in Helsinki

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump did not make any secret arrangements at the summit in Helsinki, Antonov said.

    "Vladimir Vladimirovich has told everything. There are no secret agreements reached at the meetings held in Helsinki, as far as I know," Antonov told reporters.

    Trump was heavily criticized in the US after the Helsinki summit with no real grounds; Russia will try to help improving relations, he added.

    "I have a feeling that some of them [US politicians and journalists] did not listen to what their president said, how he defended national interests… [Trump] will find himself in very difficult situation, but we will do everything possible to at least help our US partners. I think that we should find at least some small-scale joint projects at the first stage in order to break free from deadlock caused by contradictions and difficulties that we have," Antonov told reporters.

    Issue of the US sanctions against Russia was not raised at the Helsinki summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, the sides discussed economic cooperation, Antonov said.

    "The issue of sanctions as such was not discussed. The part of talks which I attended addressed the issues of economic cooperation," Antonov told reporters.

    On July 16 Russian President Vladimir Putin held a first face-to-face meeting with US leader Donald Trump in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. The two parties have discussed the current state of bilateral relations along with pressing issues on the international agenda.

    Related:

    Russian Activist Butina Also Charged With Acting as Agent of Foreign Government
    Butina's Arrest Is Nonsense: Many US Citizens Lobby in Russia - Analyst
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    arrest, Maria Butina, Anatoly Antonov, United States, Russia
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