Russia probe

Where Things Stand: Maria Butina’s Bizarre Sign-Of-Life Interview Is Riddled With Kremlin Propaganda
This is your TPM evening briefing.

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on this character.

Convicted Russian spy Maria Butina just did a bizarre and rather concerning interview with the BBC in which she argued that Ukraine is “bombing” its own civilians and pushed Kremlin talking points that President Vlodymyr Zelensky, a Jewish descendant of Holocaust survivors, is a Nazi.

The interview honestly sounds like a confused hostage video. I’ll get into the details more below. But since serving 15 months in U.S. prisons after being convicted of working as an unregistered foreign agent — for attempting to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and after admitting to helping set up a Russian backchannel for conservative strategists ahead of the 2016 election — Butina returned to Russia in 2019. And she’s a politician now — apparently a fairly successful one. Butina became a member of the Russian parliament’s lower chamber in 2021 and has batted away accusations that President Putin helped hand her the position as a “reward” for her criminal endeavors in the U.S.

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FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, testifies before a House Judiciary Committee joint hearing on “oversight of FBI and Department of Justice actions surrounding the 2016 election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 12.     (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - JANUARY 25: Roger Stone, a former advisor to President Donald Trump, exits the Federal Courthouse on January 25, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Stone was charged by special counsel Robert Mueller of obstruction, giving false statements and witness tampering. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: Former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Flynn is expected to testify again on July 15. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
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