Convicted Russian agent Maria Butina has been elected to the lower house of Parliament in her home country but not in her home city.
BusinessInsider reported Sunday that Butina was elected to represent the rural region of Kirov Oblast, about 2,700 miles from her hometown Barnaul, Altai Krai. When she was just 19, she served on the public council of Altai Krai.
She appeared in the U.S., claiming she was a "gun-rights activist," focusing on meeting leaders involved in the National Rifle Association (NRA). She connected with GOP officials and political leaders to set up a "back-channel" with the Kremlin. Butina remains to insist she was never a spy for Russia but pleaded guilty to being a Russian foreign agent in 2018.
One of Butina's big supporters for her election was Patrick Byrne, the supporter of President Donald Trump, who spent a lot of time at the White House as Trump crafted his protest losing the 2020 election. The two had previously been lovers, prior to Paul Erickson. Byrne told Insider that he gave the donation to her political campaign because he had "a desire to let her land on her feet and restart her life in Russia."
"I felt badly for Maria, for the role I had played in helping the FBI set her up, and in the way I had misused her in my own designs," he also said.
Byrne claimed that during the time they were together, he was giving information about her to the FBI and he continued dating her because the FBI asked him to. She claimed at one point, when he was drunk, he tried to poison her to have his own spy interrogation with her.
The report said that opposition leader Alexei Navalny's team said that Byrne gave Butina "tens of millions of Russian rubles" according to her disclosure forms.