Or perhaps a better label would be “NRA Red Sparrow.”
Courtesy of Politico:
According to the prosecution’s filing, the Russian government has conducted six consular visits to Butina and passed four diplomatic notes to the U.S. Department of State about her case. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has spoken twice to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to complain about Butina’s incarceration and prosecution. As prosecutors noted, in the days following Butina’s arrest, the official Kremlin Twitter account changed its avatar to a picture of her and launched #FreeMariaButina. RT—a Russian news outlet funded by the Russian government—has written a number of articles about her, decrying her prosecution and detention. According to prosecutors, “Russia has issued more diplomatic notes on the defendant’s behalf in the past month than for any other Russian citizen imprisoned in the United States in the past year. Put simply, the Russian government has given this case much more attention than other cases.”
The article is written by former counterintelligence agent Alex Finely, who offers his opinion as to why the government is hovering around Butina.
It seems likely that Russian officials visiting Butina in prison are looking to protect more than just the rights of a Russian citizen. They are looking to protect their ongoing intelligence operations. To that larger end, they likely have several goals in mind:
To assess the damage.
Essentially to figure out just how much she has told her interrogators and whether or not other operations and assets remain secret.
To reassure Butina.
If she thinks the government has abandoned her she is much more likely to talk.
To send a signal to other assets.
To say, “Hey, everything is cool, we got this.”
All of this kind of leads to the conclusion that this young woman might have more information about the Russian interference program than previously believed.