On Friday, April 26, a court in Washington sentenced Ms. Russia Maria Butina, a Russian citizen, to 18 months in prison, nine of which she has already spent behind bars. After serving the remaining term of 9 months, if it is not reduced on appeal, she will be deported to Russia.
Maria Butina first appeared on the air at a conference on the phone with Russian journalists.
She explained what was her admission of guilt, she admitted that by sending letters on her own initiative to one of the Russian officials about the political landscape in the United States, she did not register under FARA. Butina: “The law is harsh, but it is the law. Torshin disappeared, probably, he had reasons. I need financial assistance. 40 million rubles – the debt to the lawyers.”
Immediately after the conference was over, there appeared numerous publications in the media, some of which dealt with another Russian citizen – Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. With references to some unnamed source they started saying that Maria Butina testified about a number of Russian citizens, including Veselnitskaya, despite the fact that “no crime was found in that testimony”, “the testimony will be used in the case against Veselnitskaya”.
Comment by NV:
I’ve never been familiar with Maria Butina, and haven’t heard of her before she was charged with espionage activities. The fact of espionage has not been proven. A direct question from someone present at the conference call “what and who were you interrogated about”, Ms. Butina replied: “I was asked about a publication in the New York Times about Paul Erickson’s letter to Mr. Sessions, I was asked no questions about any persons”. After listening to the conference, I did not hear my name in any context, so there is nothing to comment on.
What is much more important is that as exemplified by Maria Butina’s case and by my own situation, and hundreds of other people’s cases, today there is a new phenomenon – life-long sanctions entailing media and social toxicity in any country, and even in one’s own country, with facts not proven in court. It’s like an unpronounced part of the sentence.
The name of Maria Butina spun on the headlines and accusations of espionage activities, which the Attorney’s Office eventually refused proving, agreeing to close the case with admission of guilt for non-registration under FARA. With this “exchange”, a person is labeled “a spy” or “transcoded spy”. Butina’s case has become a dangerous legal, social precedent – a prison sentence for political freelancing, covering a person with social toxicity veil wherever he goes. This precedent can now become be a convenient mechanism for the persecution of a particular person and labeling whole nations or countries.
The spread of social toxicity first in relation to a particular person, and then groups of people and the nations, will lead us to ethnic and geopolitical self-isolation. With no extra efforts used, a stereotype is introduced into people’s minds: a Russian is a spy, an American is a hypocrite, and in the end we begin to live by these clichés, turning ourselves into enemies.
Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website