WASHINGTON (AP) – A Russian gun rights activist who admitted being a secret agent for the Kremlin says she believed Russian officials would consider her notes and analysis to be “valuable” as she tried to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups.
Maria Butina spoke with National Public Radio in an interview airing Friday.
Butina pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent and was sentenced in April to 18 months in prison.
Butina argues her actions were done in public and she wasn’t a traditional spy. She admits she should’ve registered with the U.S. government. She says she knows nothing about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Butina’s connection to South Dakota is her personal relationship with Vermillion native, Paul Erickson. KELOLAND Investigates reported last year Butina and Erickson had started a limited liability company in 2016 in South Dakota. State records do not say what this “consulting” business actually does.