Judge Orders Alleged Russian Agent Held Without Bail
Maria Butina, 29, was ordered held without bail by a judge in a DC federal court. According to court documents, prosecutors believe that Butina was working as a Russian Agent and poses a serious flight risk. Butina entered a “not guilty” plea to the charges but remains jailed until her trial. It is believed that Butina worked within the NRA and throughout Washington to try and set up “back channel” communication between Russia and the politicians in the United States. The young woman was in the United States on a student visa. Prosecutors allege that she was acting as an agent of the Russian government and did not register as an agent as required by United States law.
Judges can order a defendant to be held without bail if they believe that the circumstances of the case warrant. A judge will often weigh factors such as the likelihood that the defendant presents a flight risk or if they are a danger to the community. In this case, the DC Federal Court judge agreed with prosecutors that Butina presented a flight risk since she could easily use a Russian embassy or diplomatic vehicle to escape the reach of law enforcement. Investigators also presented information suggesting that Butina had already made plans to leave the country as her apartment was allegedly full of moving boxes and money had been recently transferred to Russia.