Maria Butina sex scandal concocted by Russian media as distraction from spy charges
Maria Butina

Russian media figures are preparing viewers for sexual revelations about accused spy Maria Butina, according to a media monitor.

The 30-year-old Butina recently pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy against the United States, which she told the court came under the direction of Russian official Alexander Torshin, and Russian state-owned TV appears to be deeply concerned about what she has told U.S. investigators, wrote analyst Julia Davis for The Daily Beast.

Davis said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, falsely claimed that Butina was facing 15 years in prison and confessed under medieval torture.

“Under these conditions, you can make anyone admit to anything," Zakharova told Rossiya-1. "You will admit that you’re a Japanese spy, a Chinese spy, or a medieval witch that tried to stir up a storm in Washington.”

Russia state media outlets have interviewed Butina's parents in an apparent effort to show she presented herself as a spy and seductress without actually being either, and TV hosts have offered unconventional theories to explain her actions.

“What if her intentions were purely sexual?" wondered Channel One host Andrey Malakhov. "Couldn’t that be the case? Some people like to sleep with famous athletes and some with politicians. She came there and wanted to meet them, that’s all.”

Former friends and colleagues have shared photos of Butina in her younger days, wearing frumpy clothes and an unstylish brown mullet hairstyle, but some former associates say she may have been recorded making false boasts about working as a spy.

"She’s paying the price for whatever she blabbed about," said Pavel Tulin, a former colleague at the Public Chamber Council of Altai Krai.