Is This a Banana Republic? Maria Butina Is Being Treated With Complete Contempt by US Authorities
The Russian Embassy in the USA will continue to strive for Maria Butina's release. The diplomats noted that the American court actually took the side of the prosecution, ignoring the reasoning of the defense. To recap, earlier Butina was taken into custody until the court process starts, her lawyer was forbidden to reveal any details of the case.
Our staff correspondent in the USA Alexander Khristenko will continue.
Maria Butina's lawyer brought her a black bag with spare clothes to the trial, hoping that she would be discharged from custody and transferred to house arrest. This time Maria wore not an orange uniform but a dark-green one, belonging to the pre-trial detention center of the city of Alexandria where she was suddenly transferred to from Washington three weeks ago. The woman was brought into the court without handcuffs. She wore glasses, returned to her after the arrest, her red hair braided. The judge emphasized that the decision to leave Maria in custody isn't based on the accusations but because she is a foreign resident and, according to the judge, may potentially flee from justice.
According to the judge, there's a possibility, quote: that Butina will be immediately put into a car with diplomatic license plates and then onto a plane to Russia which the USA doesn't have an extradition agreement with. The scenario is just like in the spy movies. But one storyline has already fallen off: the prosecution admitted that Maria didn't offer intimacy in exchange for access to certain political circles. They explained the mistake like this: the investigators misinterpreted Butina's text messages. Though the judge herself told that it took her five minutes to understand that the messages were from three years ago. So the reason for the, quote, «vulgar accusation» was nothing more than a joke. But while they dealt with it, the excited American journalists have already managed to picture Butina as a tricky temptress, ready to do everything to fulfill tasks from Moscow. But the rebuttal they make quite unwillingly.
— What can you say about the trial?
— No comment.
— So now you can't even comment on the process of the trial until it's over?
— How do you rate Maria's confinement conditions?
— No comment.
The judge prohibited Maria's lawyer from speaking to journalists. Stricken by the campaign launched against his client, Robert Driscoll often made emotional speeches for the media with counterarguments. The judge said that the lawyer has gone too far publicly criticizing the evidence gathered by the FBI, alleging that Washington is a small city, the jury range is narrow, and this could affect their decision. The prohibition of the disclosure of case details is also applied to the prosecution.
Despite their mistake, the attorneys continue to insist that Maria Butina, a student at the American University in Washington, was an agent of influence of the Russian government. She colluded in order to do that and didn't register with the US Department of Justice. It even came to a point where the prosecutors weighed in the following statistics as an additional argument for their side: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed Butina's case with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo twice, and she was visited in prison six times by the Russian Consulate staff in the US.
«Maria isn't the only Russian citizen we visit in the detention centers. We understand that such visits cause annoyance because they let us find out about the basic human rights violations in the American prisons, the rights of our citizens, firsthand. We'll visit Maria Butina in prison this week, continue to defend her vested rights, and demand her release from the US authorities».
The defense claims that Maria studied foreign relations at the university, that's why she was interested in politics. She has never hidden her pro-Russian views. And she dated Paul Ericsson, a Republican activist, not because of propriety but because it was true love.
Here's a video, where the couple sings a famous song from the «Beauty and the Beast» cartoon. The recording was made at a recording studio in Moscow three years ago. It was a birthday gift from Maria to Paul. He now visits her in the detention center.
Despite the fact that the case is on trial now, the prosecution has obtained new evidence. As it became know, just a week ago the FBI obtained a new hard drive and the prosecution asked for additional time to process the new information. The next session of Maria Butina's case is to take place on the 13th of November.
Alexander Khristenko, Nikolay Koskin, Vesti, Washington, USA.