Russian diplomats last visited the detained 29-year-old on Thursday. After talking to Butina, they said they would file a complaint with the US State Department, warning that the "psychological pressure and humiliation must stop."
The Russian Embassy in the US said in a statement that the US prison authorities had resumed their practice of checking on Butina every 15 minutes at night. "That is how inmates, who are likely to commit suicide, are treated. Maria never gave causes for such concern. She is still fully determined to prove her innocence. It is obvious that it is an attempt to break her will," the press release on Facebook read.
The litany of irregularities discovered by embassy staff also include strip checks that are carried out after every single visit by her attorneys, diplomats or friends, sometimes as often as three times a day.
In violation of all norms, the woman has also been barred from receiving letters in Russian under pretext they might contain "coded messages," although the Embassy argued that prison administration seemed unwilling to "burden itself and look for a translator."
The Embassy stressed that such "abnormal" treatment of a suspect was becoming more and more intolerable, spurred by hysteria on US social and mainstream media, which remind of a Salem witch hunt.
Butina is a recent American University graduate with a master’s degree in international relations. She was arrested in Washington, DC, on July 15 on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent. Butina, who has denied the accusations, was denied bail and remains in custody. She faces up to 15 years in jail.
Russia has strongly criticized the US government for detaining Butina and characterized the charges against her as "clearly groundless."