10:49 GMT07 April 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – There are no legal obstacles preventing Russian national Maria Butina from returning home to Russia, however, some issues with her departure from the United States could arise, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said.

    "After serving her sentence she is subject to deportation to Russia. As practice shows, this process can take several days or more. There are no formal obstacles to her return – Maria’s passport was handed over to the US immigration authorities in advance to expedite her deportation," Antonov said in a Facebook statement.

    According to the Russian Ambassador, some issues with the deportation could nonetheless arise, despite the fact that the US State Department has promised to keep the Russian diplomats updated and has assured them that all American rules and regulations are being complied with.

    "At the same time, previous experience of returning fellow citizens to Russia indicates that the deportation process is fraught with certain difficulties. This is primarily due to the remote location of the prison from the international airport, the presence/absence of seats on flights. As we understand, Maria will be sent through a deportation center, where she can spend some time awaiting departure," Antonov explained.

    Butina's lawyer, Robert Driscoll, told Sputnik that Butina could arrive in Moscow on Saturday, 26 October, although he had no flight information yet. Butina's family will be meeting her at one of the Moscow airports.

    On Tuesday, Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Russian lower house's foreign affairs committee, said after talking to Butina that she planned to arrive in Russia within three days after being released.

    Butina was arrested in mid-2018 in the United States on a single charge of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent in the US. Her prison term ends on October 25.


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