Federal authorities have arrested a Russian woman and South Dakota business owner accused of spying in the United States.

That’s according to court papers unsealed late Monday in Washington. Maria Butina was arrested Sunday on a charge of conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.

Read the court papers at the bottom of this article.

The documents say she tried to infiltrate American political organizations, including a gun-rights group, at the direction of a senior Kremlin official.

Court papers say Butina worked on behalf of an unnamed Russian official to influence senior U.S. politicians and develop relationships with other political organizations between 2015 and 2017.

As KELOLAND News investigates first reported in Dec. 2017, during that time she also started a business in South Dakota.

Butina and Vermillion native Paul Erickson formed a limited liability company in 2016 in South Dakota called Bridges LLC, according to the South Dakota Secretary of State.


It’s unclear what that company does.

KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke paid a visit to the address listed for both Butina and Erickson in the Bridges business filling in an apartment building on West 57th Street. 

Butina also spoke in 2015 at the University of South Dakota. Her lecture was called “The Right To Bear Arms In Russia … Where Neither Currently Exists”

In a statement, her lawyers denies Butina was “an agent of the Russian Federation.”

Tuesday morning, KELOLAND News checked with the Secretary of State’s office and Bridges LLC is listed as delinquent in their filings.