Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed perplexity on Tuesday over the persecution of Russian national Maria Butina in the United States.
«Our unfortunate girl, Butina, is jailed — 15 years of imprisonment, what for?» he asked a session of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights. Putin said that having learned about Butina he had asked intelligence services about her. «Nobody knows anything about her,» the president said. «The only place where somebody knows something about her is the Federation Council, where she worked as a deputy to someone or so. And she gets 15 years for that? What is this?» he asked. «I have no clue what else they will come up with regarding this 15-year term,» TASS quoted him as saying.
Besides, Putin recalled the detention in Norway of a Federation Council staffer, who was «detained and then released».
Focusing on human rights abuse in the West, the president mentioned incidents in which police officers fire at innocent people. «A woman gets out of the car and runs away, so what? Should she be killed necessarily?» he asked. «Well, but they do kill, shoot to kill,» the president added.
Maria Butina, a graduate student at American University in Washington, was arrested on July 15 ahead of the Helsinki summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump. The Russian gun rights activist is facing charges of conspiracy for conducting activities in the interests of a foreign state. Investigators claim that she was engaged in these endeavors without registering as a foreign agent at the US Department of Justice.
During the July 21 phone conversation with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov demanded Butina’s speedy release, adding that the charges against her were trumped-up.