The next month she spoke with about 20 commercial students at a public school in Sioux Falls. And this summer, she spoke to a crowd of teenagers in a politically oriented summer camp organized by South Dakota Republicans.
The incidents were then documented in part – on a university flyer, in a social media acceptance speech from a local Republican, and on Butina's own social media profiles. The federal authorities arrested Butina this week and indicted her on behalf of the Russian government as part of a campaign to influence American politics
and they are being re-examined for their efforts to establish relations with Republican-oriented groups such as the National Rifle Association and to cultivate the Conservative Political Action Conference, these events, far from the national political sphere and its nodes of power give an insight into the years of planning and attention details that investigators say was Butina's campaign.
According to an affidavit filed in the case, Butina was led by a high-ranking official of the Russian government who trained her to win the "fight for the future". and "do not burn out prematurely."
David Gomez, a retired FBI counterintelligence expert, said in an interview that Butina's presence at the sparsely attended events in a low-profile state in 201
"It is their good faith to increase their acceptance and their background," he said. "If you're an agent of influence, you do that so that you can advertise that on your resume and you're trying to increase your ability for someone with more power by creating a track record."
Butina's work is forming relations with conservative officials had begun years before the 2016 elections. In 2013, she and Alexander Torshin, a well-connected Russian Senator of Vladimir Putin's party, who agrees with the description of the official named in the affidavit, invited NRA President David Keene and other gun lovers to Moscow for a meeting of charitable gun rights She had founded the right to carry weapons.
Representatives of the University, School and Summer Camp of South Dakota told the Post Office that all three events were organized with the help of Paul Erickson, a Republican agent of the state that corresponds to a description, by an American who appeared in court records was described as someone who led Butina to powerful political figures "for the purpose of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation".
Butina told the Senate Intelligence Committee in April that she had been in a romantic relationship With the agent she had met in Moscow, people who were familiar with the matter told the post office.
Erickson, who was not charged, did not react to a mess
A poster for Butina's appearance at the University of South Dakota in April 2015 shows a picture of her looking idealistic and issuing her credentials as a weapons lawyer , Michelle Cwach said in an email to The Post Tuesday that the lecture was sponsored by a center within the school's political science faculty and two student groups.
"The event was a small pizza with about a dozen students present," a statement she has distributed, said. "The topic was the right to carry arms in Russia."
Ben Schumacher, a spokesperson for the Sioux Falls School District, said in an e-mail that Butina was talking to about 20 high school students from the Career and Technical Education Academy about women and entrepreneurship, including their "path to ownership." Operator of their own company "
" There was no political discussion, "said Schumacher.
This event had come about because Erickson had worked as an associate "A volunteer to teach business-focused lessons with the school," Schumacher said.
Butina's appearance at the South Dakota Republican camp this summer was captured in photos posted on social media, as well as a warehouse manager's tweet. Dusty Johnson
"Maria Butina was unbelievable in the South Dakota TARS camp," wrote Johnson, who is now the Republican nominee in an open race for the state's sole congressional seat. "The children loved their stories of working for freedom in Russia."
The one-week camp took place in the mountains of the Black Hills, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
Johnson's campaign manager Will D. Mortenson said the post that Erickson was at the center of Butina's performance in the camp, saying the GOP man had described her as a "freedom fighter" acting against Putin's regime.
Mortenson said that Butina talked to the group of students – about 50 in photos – about gun rights and her work as a civil rights advocate for 20 minutes.
The South Dakota Democratic Party quickly seized upon the arrest of Butinas and shared Johnson's Tweet
"The SDGOP has given the people of South Dakota a detailed explanation of how Ms. Butina started talking at her teenage Republican camp at the same time As she began her efforts to infiltrate and influence American political organizations, and what relationship, if any, she has with her organization or one of her candidates and elected officials, "the organization said in a statement. "At least, Republicans of South Dakota have played as unknowing accomplices of the Russian government in their efforts to influence our country's policies and governance, which is a catastrophic top-level failure in their party organization, and at least raises serious questions about the verdict and the competence of the SDGOP. "
Mortenson said Johnson had studied Butina's background and was partly influenced by her performance at the University of South Dakota.
"Ms. Butina posed as a freedom fighter, battling the oppression of the Putin regime," Johnson said in a statement distributed by Mortenson. "Instead, it looks like she's a cheater and a liar."
Butina's lawyer Robert Driscoll did not respond to a request for comment, but told The Post earlier that Butina was a political-minded student wishing to network with Americans and not a Russian agent.
"She intends to vigorously defend her rights and looks forward to clarifying her name," he said in a statement.
Butina, who graduated from American University in Washington in May, had
This article was written by Eli Rosenberg, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Shane Harris, and Carol D. Leonnig Written All are reporters for The Washington Post.