NRA leadership embraced Russian double agent Maria Butina during the same period that she helped to arm anti-American groups overseas.
Butina actively supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military takeover of Crimea with a March 2014 news conference with a pro-Russian separatist group, and just four weeks later traveled to Indianapolis to meet with NRA executives, reported Mother Jones.
She touted her Kremlin connections at the news conference, held with the leader of the pro-Russian separatist group the Crimean Front, and Butina also mentioned a civilian gun initiative by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin.
The gun group intended to expand into Crimea, and separatist group leader Sergei Veselovsky asked whether civilians could be armed to fight off Ukrainian militants rumored to be heading into the region.
“We will try to help maximally, of course, on the legal front,” Butina assured the Crimean Front Leader. “We’ll tell people how to do it absolutely right, and how to behave in a self-defense scenario.”
Veselovsky had led a “Cossack self-defense unit” that just weeks earlier had stormed the offices of the independent Crimean Center for Investigative Journalism, and the journalists inside fled to Kiev as the militia group denounced them as “American agents.”
The Crimean Front then took over the outlet, which was renamed “News Front” and is now reportedly funded by Russia security service, and push out anti-American content attacking U.S. sanctions and special counsel Robert Mueller.
Shortly after establishing public ties to the Crimean militia group, Butina was greeted as a VIP by top NRA officials at their annual conference in Indiana.