She had been sentenced and incarcerated for attempting to infiltrate American political circles. Released Friday from Tallahassee prison in Florida, Russian spy Maria Butina took off from Miami the same day and landed in Moscow on Saturday shortly before noon.
"I am very happy to go home. I am very grateful to all those who supported me, to the Russian citizens who helped me and wrote letters, "she said on arrival, moved, to the journalists gathered at Sheremetyevo airport.
"Thank you very much to the Foreign Ministry and to the diplomats who fought for me every day," she added, wearing a blue jog, arms full of flowers, escorted by her father and by the door. – Spokesperson of the Russian diplomacy Maria Zakharova, came to welcome him. "The Russians do not surrender! She concluded.
"Everyone hated me"
The state-funded TV channel RT broadcast images on Saturday in a minibus, denouncing "the horror I found myself" in prison in the United States. "Absolutely everyone hated me," she says, indicating that during her detention she watched programs that showed "the ugliest pictures of me". "It was very hard," she adds.
Arrested in July 2018, Maria Butina is the only Russian citizen to have been convicted in cases of interference in US domestic politics, although her role appears to have been limited.
She had established ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful US gun lobby and very close to the Republican Party. It had used for this purpose its own Russian organization for the defense of the carrying of arms. His contacts with the NRA had allowed him to approach Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. She has always claimed her innocence.
No link established with Russian agencies
Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison last April, almost half of whom were already serving. She had been accused of "conspiracy" to "promote the interests of Russia" but her conviction only concerns a failure to register as a foreign agent, a requirement of US law.
US justice had not established any connection between Maria Butina and the Russian intelligence agencies. But prosecutors said she had regular contacts with the Russian embassy and officials in charge of intelligence services. She has always claimed her innocence, claiming that she had mostly sought to create personal ties between her country and the United States, where she was studying at American University in Washington.
At the time of his conviction, the Russian Foreign Ministry had condemned "fabricated" accusations, describing it as "a victim of a tough confrontation between various political forces in the United States and a frenzied anti-Russian campaign in the United States. spirit of McCarthyism ".
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