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The complaint lists (with redacted names) messages between Butina, a Russian official, and at least two USA citizens.

Torshin is now a senior official with Russia's central bank and a former top Russian lawmaker.

Prosecutors also note that the official has since been sanctioned by the US. She connected with politicians and candidates and even went to National Prayer Breakfasts, all under the direction of a high-level Russian official who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April, The Associated Press reports. Butina appeared before a federal magistrate in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday and was ordered held, pending a bond hearing on Wednesday.

The complaint does not name the group; however, photos on her Facebook page show she has attended events sponsored by the National Rifle Association.

The agency said Butina, 29, who lives in Washington, D.C., acted as an agent inside the U.S.

Butina was charged with conspiring to act as an agent of Russian Federation "by developing relationships with United States persons and infiltrating organisations having influence in American politics", it said in a statement.

She has been involved in coordinating in recent years between American gun rights activists and their Russian counterparts, U.S. media accounts have reported.

The indictment alleges Butina and Torshin, "planned to advance Moscow's long-term strategic objectives in the United States, in part, by establishing relationships with American political organizations, including the GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION". In truth, Helson wrote, "Butina continued to act as an agent on behalf of the Russian Federation" and an unnamed Russian official.

The New York Times reported that during the 2016 election campaign Butina had twice tried to broker secret meetings between Trump and Putin.

It's been determined that Maria Butina attended her first NRA convention in Indianapolis in the spring of 2014.

"We could give them the benefit of the doubt and say this is just a natural interest and affinity; this guy Torshin and this woman Butina are just gun aficionados", Polyakova noted.

Butina is a gun-rights advocate who cozied up to conservatives in the nation's capital.

"I know Putin and I'll tell you what, we get along with Putin", Trump responded, in the first of his many campaign statements about his desire to build better ties with Russian Federation. He added that she "has been cooperating with various government entities for months regarding public allegations related to her contacts with various American and Russian individuals". She reportedly has been an advocate of gun rights in Russian Federation and was a "special guest" at an NRA meeting in 2014. The pair did, however, have a brief meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at a NRA event in May 2016.


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