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Timeline of Suspected Russian Plot to Infiltrate NRA, GOP
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By Associated Press
Published 6 years ago on
September 10, 2018

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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 Russian 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.

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.

Photo of Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin
In this photo taken on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin, then a member of the Russian upper house of parliament in Moscow, Russia. When gun activist Maria Butina arrived in Washington in 2014 to network with the NRA, she was peddling a Russian gun rights movement that was already dead. Fellow gun enthusiasts and arms industry officials describe the strange trajectory of her Russian gun lobby project, which U.S. prosecutors say was a cover for a Russian influence campaign. Accused of working as a foreign agent, Butina faces a hearing Monday, Sept. 10 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)

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