US authorities have provided no proof that Maria Butina violated the foreign agent law

Summary

US authorities have provided no proof that Maria Butina violated the foreign agent law.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that Maria Butina was simply a student at a Washington university and was not working for the Russian government.

The FBI investigation provided ample evidence of Butina’s violation of Title 18 of the United States Code, section 951 (Agents of Foreign Governments), which  makes it a criminal offense for any person, other than a diplomatic or consular official or attache, to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General, as required by law.

The FBI investigation revealed that Butina worked under the direction of a senior Russian official to cultivate ties with US political groups and highly influential individuals (primarily conservatives) in order to collect information about - and exert influence on - such groups and individuals in the interests of the Russian Federation.

Prosecutors included a memo by Robert Anderson, a 20-year veteran of the FBI specialized in counterintelligence, who assessed that the information provided by Butina to the Russian official who directed her “was of substantial intelligence value to the Russian government and that Russian intelligence services will be able to use this information for years to come in their efforts to spot and assess Americans who may be susceptible to recruitment as foreign intelligence assets”.

Background here by Polygraph.

For a similar case see here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 170
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 25/10/2019
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Russia, United States
  • Keywords: Maria Butina, FBI, Intelligence services
  • Outlet: Sputnik Italia
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OPCW suppressed key evidence in Douma chemical attack probe

The OPCW skewed its own investigation of the 2018 chemical weapons incident in Douma, Syria to come to a predetermined decision. The accusation is based on evidence and testimony of an OPCW investigator, who came forward with damning evidence that his own organization had breached its mission.

A member of the panel which questioned the whistleblower also reprinted an OPCW engineering assessment leaked in May 2019. The document rejects the claim that chlorine cylinders, which were used for delivery of the toxic gas in Douma, had been dropped from the air, which was used as a key argument in accusing the Syrian army for the attack.

 

Disproof

The story advances a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative seeking to absolve the Assad regime of responsibility for chemical attacks perpetrated in the course of the Syrian civil war, as well as to undermine the credibility and independence of the OPCW.

The value of the panel's alleged findings is summarized in the following passage from the story itself: "The panel did not make public the name of the whistleblower or any previously unpublished evidence of the OPCW’s alleged misconduct." It therefore does nothing to challenge the OPCW's conclusions regarding the Douma incident.

Lithuania is a hostage of the American interests in Eastern Europe

The recent training bombing realised by the US B-52 bombers in Lithuania was a clear provocation – Lithuania has become a hostage in process of realisation of the American interests in Eastern Europe.

Disproof

This message is part of a broader Kremlin’s disinformation narrative about the Baltic states, which are presented as “vassals”  of US and NATO and used against Russia. See other examples of this narrative here, here and here.

Lithuania is an independent state, which makes sovereign decisions about its foreign and domestic policy.  NATO's increased presence in the Baltic Sea region has been a request of the Baltic states. Following Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia requested a greater NATO presence in the region. Lithuanian public support for NATO is currently at a five year high, with 86% of the population in favor of Lithuania’s NATO membership, according to public opinion poll carried out in December 2018 at the request of the Ministry of National Defence. 83% of respondents also approve of NATO allies’ presence on the territory of Lithuania.

Ukraine can unblock negotiations on maritime borders by recognising the Russian status of Crimea

Ukraine recognising the Russian status of Crimea would be a good basis for negotiations on maritime borders between the two countries.

 

Disproof

Another manipulative story that Ukraine impedes negotiations with Russia on a peaceful settlement. Ukraine stated that it is ready for negotiations "in any format" to restore Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea annexed by Russia.

Russia appeals to the fact that after the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine allegedly lost any right to use the sea routes adjacent to the peninsula. However, according to the international maritime law (article 44), Kyiv has every right to use the Black and Azov Seas.