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Russian Rights Ombudswoman Calls For Support For Accused Agent Butina

Maria Butina, Alleged Russian Agent
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Maria Butina

Russian human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova has called on international organizations and rights groups to voice support for Maria Butina, who was indicted in the United States this week on charges of conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

"I am calling on the UN high commissioner for human rights, the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, representatives of international organizations, and ombudsmen to air their position on the unacceptability of prosecution of people by the U.S. authorities for their intention to pursue public activities not threatening society," Moskalkova said on July 20 in Moscow.

She called the accusations against Butina "far-fetched."

Butina, 29, has been accused of attempting to infiltrate political groups, including the powerful National Rifle Association, to advance Russian interests. She is being held in Washington without bail.

The Russian Foreign Ministry late on July 19 launched a Twitter campaign calling for Butina's release. The ministry touted the hashtag #FreeMariaButina, changed the profile picture on its Twitter account to a photograph of Butina, and asked Butina supporters to do the same on their social media accounts.

Also on July 19, Russian news agencies reported that Russian consular officials in Washington visited with Butina in the Washington jail where she is in custody and said she is in good health.

"Despite the stress and the psychological pressure that the Russian citizen had to experience during her arrest, she feels well and has no complaints about her health," the Russian Embassy in Washington said in a statement.

"Just like any normal person, Maria has difficulties in adapting to prison conditions," the embassy reportedly said. "However, she is holding her head up high, is sure of her innocence, and is determined to prove it in the court."

With reporting by dpa, Vox, AP, Interfax, and TASS
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