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Alleged spy told Senate panel about backing from Russian billionaire

Maria Butina, the recently indicted Russian national accused of being an agent of Russia, told the Senate Intelligenc...

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 10:18 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 10:18 PM

Maria Butina, the recently indicted Russian national accused of being an agent of Russia, told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year that Russian billionaire Konstantin Nikolaev had backed her financially, a source familiar with her testimony told CNN.

Butina made international headlines last week when the Justice Department announced her arrest and a grand jury formally approved charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent. The federal case has added to a growing picture of undisclosed foreign attempts to lobby in the US and alleged Russian influence in the political system.

Nikolaev's office told CNN in an email Monday that he did provide some funding to a pro-gun organization run by Butina called Right to Bear Arms, but has not been in touch with her since 2014.

"Mr. Nikolaev has had no contact with Ms. Butina or her organisation since 2014," his office said in a message in English. "He briefly provided some funding to the organisation from 2012 to 2014 specifically to support their efforts in Russia to raise public awareness around certain domestic issues. His interest and support were strictly limited to that effort, and he has provided no support of any kind to them since that time."

The Washington Post reported earlier than Nikolaev's office said the billionaire had been in touch with Butina, but not that Nikolaev had given her organization money.

The charges against Butina came after she gained the attention of lawmakers investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and in April, she sat for eight hours of testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Washington Post first reported on this element of Butina's testimony. Additionally, Nikolaev's son supported President Donald Trump's candidacy in the 2016 election, the Post reported, citing a person familiar with his son's activities, and Nikolaev himself was seen at the Trump International Hotel in Washington during Trump's inauguration, the newspaper said, citing two people aware of his presence.

Butina, along with her mentor, Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin, worked for years to establish communications in the US for Russia, according to court filings and previous CNN reporting, and used the National Rifle Association as a major avenue of influence.

Butina, a gun rights activist, founded a pro-gun group in Russia called Right to Bear Arms, which Butina told the Senate panel was the recipient of Nikolaev's funding, a person familiar with her testimony told the Post.

Nikolaev was in contact with Butina as she launched the group between 2012 and 2014, a spokesman for the billionaire told the Post. The spokesman declined to confirm to the Post whether Nikolaev gave her financial support.

Robert Driscoll, Butina's attorney, has pushed back strongly on the accusations against Butina and told CNN on Friday that much of the US government's case against her was "taken completely out of context."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117617

Reported Deaths: 3302
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8050179
DeSoto728580
Harrison549185
Jackson480088
Rankin404686
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Lee366582
Forrest311878
Jones296684
Washington2627100
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Neshoba1868111
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Sunflower164349
Warren156156
Monroe153873
Pontotoc150620
Marshall148430
Lincoln143359
Pike140656
Copiah139336
Scott127029
Coahoma125837
Union125825
Yazoo123434
Simpson123149
Grenada122939
Tate121039
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Leake116342
Pearl River116360
Holmes115060
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George101719
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Marion95943
Tippah94924
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Chickasaw86727
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Winston85221
Tishomingo82741
Attala80527
Clarke77053
Clay71022
Jasper69617
Walthall64427
Calhoun63313
Noxubee60217
Smith60216
Yalobusha56416
Montgomery55823
Lawrence54414
Claiborne53916
Tunica53717
Perry52423
Carroll50312
Stone49114
Greene48118
Humphreys45117
Amite42813
Quitman4236
Jefferson Davis42112
Webster37813
Benton36710
Wilkinson34221
Kemper33315
Sharkey28715
Jefferson27910
Franklin2513
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 160380

Reported Deaths: 2713
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23769383
Mobile17039318
Tuscaloosa10539141
Montgomery10435199
Madison946798
Shelby756365
Baldwin674369
Lee662465
Calhoun468962
Marshall445251
Etowah436552
Morgan426335
Houston421234
DeKalb351229
Elmore326558
St. Clair307042
Limestone295131
Walker285593
Talladega273937
Cullman260025
Lauderdale237143
Jackson221917
Autauga210331
Colbert208232
Franklin207732
Blount198825
Russell19763
Chilton190932
Dallas188127
Coffee182611
Dale180852
Covington176729
Escambia175331
Clarke138017
Chambers137047
Pike135514
Tallapoosa135387
Marion110331
Barbour10459
Marengo103522
Butler101541
Winston94313
Geneva9357
Lawrence87733
Pickens87418
Bibb85615
Randolph84316
Hale78030
Cherokee76114
Clay75812
Washington75412
Henry7286
Lowndes71728
Monroe66010
Bullock65017
Crenshaw61130
Perry5966
Fayette59413
Cleburne5779
Wilcox57112
Conecuh56513
Macon54120
Lamar5165
Sumter47721
Choctaw39412
Greene34616
Coosa2143
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