US Political Prisoner Maria Butina
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Thousands of political prisoners languish in America’s gulag, Russian nationals among them – subjected to abusive and humiliating treatment.
The US wrongfully imprisoned Konstantin Yaroshenko, Vadim Mirerin, Victor Bout, Maria Butina, and other Russian nationals for political reasons alone.
Actions against them reflect bipartisan Russophobia, Russian nationals subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment” – forbidden by the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.
On July 14, two days before Putin/Trump summit talks in Helsinki, Finland, Butina was arrested on false charges of “conspiracy to act as a Russian agent within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General” – no evidence cited proving it.
She’s a visa-approved American University graduate, earning a master’s degree in international relations, “not an agent of the Russian Federation,” her lawyer Robert Driscoll explained, adding:
She’s “not a proxy for any of the serious and substantial issues that our country has with Russia right now.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced her arrest, detention, and mistreatment, calling it part of the campaign in America to “stoke Russophobic hysteria.”
Despite innocent of bogus charges against her and posing no flight risk, she was denied bail, for much the past five months held in suffocating solitary confinement – mistreatment able to break the will of most everyone subjected to it longterm.
Last week, Zakharova again expressed outrage over Butina’s detention and mistreatment “on trumped up charges,” currently isolated 22 hours daily and denied proper medical care – aiming to break her will ahead of a scheduled December 19 court hearing moved up to December 12, wanting her to confess to bogus charges.
Throughout her confinement, Russian diplomats in Washington maintained daily contact, including regular protests to US prison authorities and the State Department over her illegal detention and abusive treatment.
On Monday, Butina’s attorneys and federal prosecutors filed a joint motion ahead of her Wednesday’s court hearing.
According to ABC News, she “agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in any ongoing investigation” – despite having committed no wrongdoing.
According to information seen by ABC News, she and an unnamed “US Person 1 (believed to be) longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson… ‘agreed and conspired’ with a Russian government official and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General,” adding:
She “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over US politics.”
All of the above is pure rubbish. Butina likely agreed to a plea bargain for a more lenient sentence if convicted of phony charges against her – despite guilty only of being a Russian national in America at the wrong time.
Not a shred of evidence suggests she violated US laws. Following her arrest last July, Sergey Lavrov told Mike Pompeo that actions against her were inadmissible – a weak-kneed response achieving nothing.
The Kremlin should be much tougher with Washington over numerous issues, including the imprisonment of Russian nationals on phony charges, maliciously holding them hostage over unacceptable hostility toward the Russian Federation.
The only language Washington understands is toughness. Putin should order the arrests of US citizens in Russia, detaining them until all its nationals are released and proper compensation paid them for harsh illegal treatment they received.
That’s the only way to get Washington’s attention. Failure to challenge unacceptable US actions encourages more of them.
Political arrests and imprisonment of Russian nationals on bogus charges, along with other US hostility toward Moscow, won’t stop unless countered with toughness – the only language Republicans and undemocratic Dems understand.
Butina and her lawyers denied all accusations against her. A plea bargain if agreed to will be all about wanting brutal treatment mitigated and ended – even if she’s forced to serve time in prison unjustly.
Months of brutalizing physical and emotional mistreatment in confinement constitutes flagrantly illegal torture.
Under these conditions, most people will say anything to stop pain – despite having committed no crimes or other wrongdoing.
Butina and other wrongfully imprisoned Russian nationals are victims of US imperial arrogance.
Whatever the disposition of her case, other Russian nationals living outside the country risk hostile US treatment similar to what she endured for political reasons.
When is enough enough? How much more US hostility is too much? Unless Moscow responds with toughness, they’ll be no end of it.
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My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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