News & Opinion | July 27, 2018 5:00 am

Ties Emerge Between Maria Butina, NRA and Russian Billionaire

Senior NRA figures met with the wife of Konstantin Nikolaev, who allegedly gave support to Butina.

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Mariia Butina, whose name is sometimes spelled Maria, was arrested in Washington on July 15, 2018 and appeared in court on July 16, the Justice Department said. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

According to The Guardian, senior members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) met with the wife of the Russian billionaire Konstantin Nikolaev. The oligarch allegedly gave financial support to Maria Butina, a woman accused of being a secret agent for Moscow in the U.S.

The NRA members met with Svetlana Nikolaeva on a trip to Moscow during the 2016 election campaign. Nikolaeva is the head of a gun company that supplies sniper rifles to the Russian military and intelligence services, reports The Guardian. Her husband allegedly gave funding to Butina, who has been recently charged with carrying out a spying operation in Washington. Nikolaev also reportedly invested in his wife’s gun company.

The Guardian writes that this sheds further light on the links forged over the recent years between America’s gun lobby and well-connected Russians. U.S. prosecutors also allege that Butina’s activities were directed by Alexander Torshin, who is a senior Russian state banker as well as an NRA member.