MSNBC's Rachel Maddow outlines startling connection between Russian and American pro-gun rights groups
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow

On Friday night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow outlined how the Kremlin-linked "Right to Bear Arms" group has no interest in helping Russians secure firearms — and that their interests are way more nefarious.


"What's funny," Maddow noted, "is that they don't actually support gun rights in Russia." Neither, she noted, does Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"So why did they create this group that purports to promote that?" she mused.

Even the group's name "has a lot more resonance in the English language," the host said — and that may be the first clue to their true purpose.

Unsurprisingly, one of the group's founding members — who now has been added to the list of Russian oligarchs sanctioned by President Donald Trump on Friday — has close connections to the National Rifle Association. He not only attends their annual conference, but also has NRA celebrities to attend events in Russia as well, Maddow noted.

"Among the U.S. officials who personally promoted this group is John Bolton," the host said, referencing the president's infamous new national security adviser.

Playing a clip of Bolton, subtitled in Cyrillic, addressing Russian gun advocates, Maddow said that in spite of the group's rhetoric, they're "not actually engaged in a debate" about gun rights in the country.

"To be clear: Vladimir Putin and his political party do not believe the Russian people should have the right to bear arms," she said. Instead, they appear to be trying to sell the illusion that they're pro-Russian gun rights — for "effect on an American audience."

"They were trying to cultivate ties between the American political right and Putin's government," she said, citing new reporting that the FBI is now investigating the "Right to Bear Arms" and Torshin used their relationship with the NRA to "funnel foreign cash" to the US — and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Watch below, via MSNBC: