- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Russian lawmakers set their sights Tuesday on U.S. officials involved in the prosecution of Maria Butina after she received an 18-month prison sentence for conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent.

Several members of the Russian legislature have asked Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov to compile a so-called “Butina List” containing the names of U.S. officials accused of “violating the fundamental rights and freedoms of Russian citizens,” the Izvestia newspaper reported.

“The threat of being included in the ‘Butina List’ in the future should start sobering up foreign officials, who have gotten used to clamping down on Russians with impunity and prevent violations of our fellow countrymen’s rights abroad,” the lawmakers wrote, as translated by Russian state media.

The effort is being led by Valery Rashkin, a member of the Russian Communist Party, and is endorsed by Butina’s father, Valeriy, Izvestia reported.

Butina, 31, was arrested July 15 in D.C. and charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government. She subsequently pleaded guilty to a related count of conspiracy and was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison.



Speaking to reporters from prison Tuesday, Butina blasted the punishment in her first post-sentencing interview.

“This is absolutely absurd. This is a huge disgrace for the U.S. justice system,” she said, Agence France-Presse reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted similarly to Butina’s sentencing days earlier, calling it a “travesty of justice.”

Butina has served roughly nine months already and could be released before 2020, her lawyer said previously. She is slated to be deported back to Russia once her sentence is complete.

The Department of Justice accused Butina of infiltrating the National Rifle Association in order to forge ties between the Republican Party and Russia. She has denied spying for Russia, and officials in Moscow have previously referred to her as a “political prisoner.”

The U.S. passed in 2012 the Magnitsky Act, which singles out and sanctions Russians accused of human rights violations. It is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was jailed while investigating government corruption and subsequently died while in prison.

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