The Daily Beast

‘Russian Spy’ Maria Butina Is Living the American Dream, In Russia

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

“Russian spy” Maria Butina, who joined the ranks of the Russian parliament last month, had an untraditional rise. In 2018, she pled guilty to conspiracy to act as a foreign agent after the FBI presented a case around her involvement in using the NRA to create illegal back channels between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

Although the FBI’s affidavit fails to prove Butina’s formal employment by the Russian Federation, the document does paint a clear picture of an ambitious young woman motivated by power. The evidence shows how Butina sought to influence foreign policy due to her own idealism and desire to insinuate herself into elite networks. Butina wasn’t hired by the Kremlin to perform an influence campaign; she volunteered.

In America, we celebrate the grand legends around “rags to riches” and “strong women” who rise against all challenges to pursue their dreams. A simple look into Butina’s history reveals this familiar story. Her past can be traced back to her humble beginnings in Siberia. Butina was born in Barnaul, a small provincial city 2,260 miles from Moscow.

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