Sergei Lavrov (L), Maria Butina (M), and Mike Pompeo (R)
Russia slams Butina arrest as unacceptable
July 21, 2018
Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov has dismissed the charges against Maria Butina as fabricated in a call with his US colleague Mike Pompeo. Previously, Russia's US envoy said US officials were trying to "break" Butina.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the "prompt release" of suspected Moscow agent Maria Butina during a conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
Lavrov stressed "the unacceptability of the actions of the US authorities who arrested Russian citizen Maria Butina based on fabricated charges."
The 29-year-old Butina was detained in Washington, DC, last Sunday. Butina was a gun-rights advocate in Moscow before moving to the US as a graduate student at the American University, where she started a relationship with veteran Republican operative Paul Erickson and became a member of the pro-gun group NRA. She now faces charges of being part of a conspiracy to act as an agent for Moscow.
During the phone call, Pompeo and Lavrov also discussed the goal of normalizing US-Russia relations on an "equal and mutually beneficial basis" and the issues surrounding Syria and North Korea. Russia's Foreign Ministry said the call was initiated by the American side.
'Some sort of comedy'
The fate of Butina seems to be connected with an ongoing effort to investigate the alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 election, which saw Donald Trump take office as US presdident.