Maria Butina to host Russian state-funded TV show

Maria Butina lands in Moscow after her release from prison
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Maria Butina

Russian gun-rights enthusiast Maria Butina, recently released from a US prison, will become the host of an online video program, Russia’s state owned network RT announced Tuesday.

Butina, who was convicted of conspiring to act as an agent for a foreign state in the United States, was deported to Russia in October after serving more than 15 months behind bars in Florida.

She subsequently insisted that she was pressured to plead guilty in the case.

RT said Butina would host a show called “Wonderful Russia bu-bu-bu.” The title appears to parody of a catchphrase used by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who often refers sarcastically in his own popular videos to the “wonderful Russia of the future” — without Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Butina was convicted of crimes related to the 2016 US presidential election, pleading guilty to using her contacts in Republican political circles, in the gun-rights lobby and at the National Prayer Breakfast to influence US relations with Russia.

The declassified version of a highly classified US intelligence community report released in early 2017 called RT part of Russia’s “state-run propaganda machine,” which contributed to a broader Russian-government sanctioned campaign to influence the 2016 election through “serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.”