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Maria Butina, allegedly Russian agent, sentenced to 18 months in prison



She is the first Russian citizen to be convicted of crimes in connection with the 2016 elections, although her efforts to infiltrate Republican circles appear to have been indistinguishable from the Kremlin's sweeping electoral blunders.

The 30-year-old enthusiast has been detained since her arrest in July and will receive credit for the nine months she has previously delivered. She is deported to Russia after serving her sentence.

"This was not a simple misunderstanding of an overzealous foreign student," said Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Work on behalf of a Russian official who was "sophisticated" and "dangerous".

"The behavior was highly developed and penetrated deeply into political organizations," said Chutkan.

Butina spoke at the Friday hearing for five minutes, her voice sometimes breaking as she expressed regret over her crime and asked for forgiveness.

"I deeply regret this crime," Butina said. "Ironically, it has hurt my attempts to improve relations between the two countries."

"I did not come under orders but with hope to the US," said Butina. "I tried to build bridges between my motherland and the land that I began to love."

"I never wanted to hurt anyone," Butina said.

While prosecutors have admitted that Butina is not a spy in the country In the traditional sense, they argued that their crimes could endanger national security.

  How the indictment against Maria Butina began to crumble

Butina pleaded guilty in December to being one of the conspirators as agents of a foreign official. She admitted to having used her contacts in GOP political circles, the National Rifle Association and the National Prayer Breakfast to influence US relations with Russia.

Butina has worked closely with the government as part of her plea. A source familiar with the situation said that it primarily contained information about her friend, the political agent of the GOP, Paul Erickson, who was allegedly involved in her plan.

So far Erickson has not received any charges in DC. Erickson was indicted in February in a separate case in South Dakota for fraud involving wire and money laundering. He did not plead guilty to federal indictments.

Marshall Cohen of CNN contributed to this report.


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