As questions swirl around just how Maria Butina infiltrated the upper ranks of the NRA, The Guardian reported yesterday that during a December 2015 trip to Moscow, senior NRA officials – including Pete Brownell, then the NRA’s first vice-president, and David Keene, a past NRA president – “met the wife of the Russian billionaire who allegedly gave financial support” to Russian national and purported lifetime NRA member, Maria Butina.
- “The NRA members met Svetlana Nikolaeva, who is the head of a gun company that supplies sniper rifles to the Russian military and intelligence services, during a trip to Moscow during the 2016 election campaign.
“Nikolaeva’s husband, Konstantin Nikolaev, allegedly provided funding to Maria Butina, a young Russian woman charged with carrying out an illicit spying operation in Washington. Nikolaev reportedly once invested in his wife’s gun company.
“Nikolaev’s wife, Svetlana, is an accomplished gun user who has competed in shooting competitions in the US and Israel. She is the president of Promtechnologies, the parent company of Orsis, and has played a prominent role in the firm’s expansion.”
Also new this week:
- The Washington Post reported that Butina told the Senate Intelligence Committee in April that she “received some income in 2016 from a $5,000-a-month consulting deal with the Outdoor Channel television network to provide advice on a planned program on hunting in Russia, according to a person familiar with her testimony.” The Outdoor Channel television network’s chief executive, Jim Liberatore, was also on the 2015 NRA delegation trip hosted by Butina and the Right to Bear Arms.
- In an effort to schedule “friendship dinners,” Butina collaborated with a “U.S. Person 2,” according to charging documents. The Wall Street Journal has revealed that person is George O’Neill Jr., a Rockefeller heir and conservative writer, interviews and public documents indicate. Mr. O’Neill, an outspoken advocate of closer ties with Russia, hosted a dinner in which “Ms. Butina told him that a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration had approved ‘building this communications channel.’”