News

Timeline of suspected Russian plot to infiltrate NRA, GOP

Written by The Associated Press | Sep 10, 2018 3:16 AM
Maria_butina.jpg

In this photo taken on Sunday, April 21, 2013, Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo)

(Moscow) -- As Siberian gun rights activist Maria Butina faces a hearing in Washington, here is a look at the unusual path that led to her arrest.

She's accused of working as an undeclared foreign agent, based on FBI suspicions that she and patron Alexander Torshin sought to infiltrate the NRA and build a long-term influence campaign with the American right. She has pleaded not guilty.

2001

Torshin is elected to serve in Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council. He makes his first contact with the NRA.

2011

Butina moves to Moscow, funded by an oligarch couple, and forms gun rights group Right to Bear Arms. Torshin and Butina meet at Moscow gun rally.

2012

Torshin presents draft bill on liberalizing gun sales, crafted in part by Butina. It fails miserably, lacking support from President Vladimir Putin.

Torshin attends NRA convention in St. Louis, and goes to Nashville to observe the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

NRA_Trump.jpg

FILE PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association-ILA Leadership Forum, Friday, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta. The NRA is holding its 146th annual meetings and exhibits forum at the Georgia World Congress Center. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

2013

Torshin attends NRA convention in Houston in May. Three months later, Spanish police try and fail to arrest Torshin for alleged connections to organized crime; Torshin denies wrongdoing.

In October, an NRA delegation including then-chief David Keene visits Russia for a conference organized by Butina's group Right to Bear Arms. Butina meets Torshin's NRA contacts.

2014

Butina goes to the U.S. for the first time, and she and Torshin attend an NRA convention in Indianapolis. She resigns as leader of Right to Bear Arms.

2015

Torshin leaves parliament to become deputy governor of Russia's Central Bank; Butina becomes his assistant.

Butina and Torshin attend an NRA convention in Nashville; Torshin says he met Donald Trump there. Butina questions Trump at Freedomfest gun show in Las Vegas.

NRA delegation visits Moscow on Butina's invitation, meets Torshin, oligarchs, top officials.

2016

Butina and Torshin attend National Prayer Breakfast, and Torshin attends NRA convention in Louisville where he says he met Donald Trump Jr.

Butina starts masters program at AU. She and Torshin exchange messages about contacts with Russian intelligence, and a "back channel" to U.S. right wing, according to the FBI.

2017

Butina, in Washington, joins celebrations of Trump's inauguration. She and Torshin attend National Prayer Breakfast.

2018

Senate questions Butina in April, and her apartment is searched by FBI. Torshin is hit with US sanctions. Butina is arrested July 15.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »