Russian ex-spy Maria Butina mocks Brittney Griner’s swap
Maria Butina, the gun-loving Russian ex-spy and politician, couldn’t contain her delight Thursday at the White House deal to swap notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA star Brittney Griner.
“The fact that Russia pushed through the exchange of bout, which America has refused to give up on principle for many years, means right now, like in The Godfather, we’ve made them ‘an offer that can’t be refused,'” Butina said in the Telegram messaging app on Thursday.
“This is a position of strength, comrades,” she added.
Butina, a former student at American University, is best known for attempting to infiltrate prominent conservative groups, including the National Rifle Association, as part of a Kremlin-backed influence campaign ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
After pleading guilty to conspiracy charges, she served 15 months in US prison and was released in 2019. She then returned to Russia, where she became a member of the State Duma in 2021.
The controversial deal to swap the gunrunner has been rumored since July, when the White House reportedly began trading Bout for Griner, as well as a second American arrested by Moscow, former Marine Paul Whalen.
Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 after being lured there by US DEA agents posing as Colombian rebels.
He was extradited to the US in 2010 over Russian objections and finally convicted by a Manhattan jury in 2011 of conspiring to sell arms to a designated foreign terrorist group.
When rumors of the swap first surfaced, Shira Scheindlin, the federal judge who sentenced Bout to the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, said she felt he had served a reasonable sentence.
“He gave enough time to what he did on this case,” she told the Associated Press this summer.
Originally, the release of Bout was planned for 2029.
Months of negotiations with the Kremlin did not result in the release of either Griner or Whelan.
When the deal was officially announced Thursday, Whelan’s name was no longer part of the deal.
“We haven’t forgotten Paul Whelan. We will continue to negotiate Paul’s release in good faith,” President Biden said.
The swap “wasn’t a choice of which American to bring home,” he added.
Russian state media released video of the exchange, which took place in Abu Dhabi, followed by video of Bout on board a Russian jet talking to his mother on the phone.
On Telegram, Butina said that she was also on the other end of that call on Thursday.
“Raisa Kuzminichna Bout, Victor’s mother, visits me in the State Duma. We spoke to Victor on the phone,” she said. “He is already in Russia and will be in Moscow soon.”
“It was short as a man,” she said of Bout’s call to his mother. “‘See you, we’ll talk.'”
https://nypost.com/2022/12/08/russian-ex-spy-maria-butina-mocks-brittney-griner-swap/ Russian ex-spy Maria Butina mocks Brittney Griner’s swap