Russian activist Maria Butina, who was arrested in the US earlier this year on suspicion of acting as a foreign agent, has agreed to plead guilty and is planning to cooperate with federal, state and local authorities, ABC News TV channel reported.
According to a copy obtained by the TV channel, Butina admits that she acted in the United States "under the direction of Russian official." The report claims that the agreement, which Butina allegedly signed on Saturday, notes that the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison. Butina could receive a lesser sentence "depending on the level of her cooperation" and is likely to be deported back to Russia.
On Monday, Butina’s attorneys and federal prosecutors filed a joint motion, requesting a change-of-plea hearing, and the court decided to schedule the hearing on December 12.
Maria Butina, 30, was arrested in Washington D.C. on July 15, on the eve of the Helsinki summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump. The Russian gun rights activist was charged with conspiracy for conducting activities in the interests of a foreign state. The investigators claim she engaged in these activities without registering as a foreign agent at the US Department of Justice.
The FBI said Butina entered the US in August 2016 on a student visa and took up studies at the American University. She received the master’s degree in international relations in May 2018, according to her lawyer.
Butina is a member of the board of the Russian public associations ‘The Right to Guns’. In this capacity, she attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in February 2017 where President Donald Trump took part.
On July 21, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underlined in his telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that US actions against Russian citizen Maria Butina were inadmissible.