Date: 28 July 2018

Attractive Russian Woman and Guns

Mariia Butina, a Russian national indicted by a federal grand jury, has been spying for Russia for years. The 29-year-old has specialized in an alleged fight for the broadest possible right to bear a gun in her native country. Moreover, she used this pretext to infiltrate the Russian opposition; since 2015, Butina has been spying on American right-wing circles, including the National Rifle Association (NRA).


On July 17, Mariia Butina was indicted on charges of acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government (according to the Foreign Agent Registration Action). Before, the woman had been infiltrating the Russian opposition. At the age of 22, she brought together Russia’s main supporters of the universal right to bear arms.

Before the Duma elections in December 2011, Butina founded the group under the name Right To Bear Arms. She came to Moscow from the Siberian city of Barnaul and easily managed to bring together weak groups of supporters of easy access to guns. They were well organized and generously financed. Thus, it is possible that someone stood behind them. In addition, they had some political allies. In July 2012, Russia’s Senator Alexander Torshin announced a plan to introduce legislation that would broaden access to handguns. However, his idea has never been put into practice. In 2013, the bill by the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party was shot down in a first reading in the State Duma. Nonetheless, Butina continued her cooperation with Torshin until the time when the woman began her studies in the United States; before, she had stepped down as the head of the Right To Bear Arms group. The Russian group clearly declined; in March this year, it even lost its legal status while its founder got involved in infiltrating the NRA in the United States. And it seems that the Right To Bear Arms organization was established to infiltrate the Russian opposition; nonetheless, it subsequently redirected its activity towards the American NRA. Butina’s actions were also supported by Alexei Navalny; Russia’s opposition activist also advocates for the right to keep arms. In 2014, he endorsed Butina’s candidacy for a membership in the Civic Chamber, Russia’s consultative civil society institution. In 2013, a former State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomariov delivered a speech at the annual Right To Bear Arms conference. He was an honorary member of the organization, along with another well-known oppositionist Andrey Dunayev as well as Alexander Torshin and leader of the LDPR party Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The issue of the Right To Bear Arms organization constitutes a classic provocation carried out by Russia’s security services. They skilfully manipulated social expectations, which were particularly large among opponents of Putin’s regime, to infiltrate the opposition thanks to a specially controlled organization. At the same time, it was possible to canalise the activity of supporters of the right to bear arms. The experience gained in Russia was then used abroad.

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