WATCH exclusive VIDEO & PHOTOS of Russian gun activist Maria Butina inside Moscow-bound plane
RT has captured first video of the just-released Russian on board of a non-stop flight from Miami to Moscow, shortly after take-off.Also on rt.com Russiagate’s first survivor: The harsh education of Maria Butina
A smiling Butina, looking visibly relieved after her ordeal in the US, said “hi” to a RT reporter as he greeted her in the aisle.
Butina, released less than 12 hours ago from a US federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida, is heading home after spending more than a year behind bars. Arrested in July 2018 and charged with failing to properly register as a foreign agent, the gun activist spent some 8 months in custody, most of it in solitary confinement, before eventually pleading guilty in December.
Speaking to journalists on board, Butina said that after her ordeal, she is most of all looking forward to setting foot on home soil and hugging her father, who will be waiting for her at the airport.
The activist said that she would take her time to adjust to her old/new life, while expressing gratitude to Russians who supported her along the way.“I would not make it without my people, citizens of my country," Butina told Sputnik.
Her detention and trial have been hyped in the US media as part of the now fizzled-out Russiagate, with Butina referred to as a “spy” and wrongly accused of trading sex for political gain. Her case was also widely used by the peddlers of anti-Russian narratives to whip up Russophobia.
Once on board, Butina took her seat in the economy class in the rear of the aircraft. Shortly after the plane took off, however, the Russian airline crew offered Maria – exhausted by her transfer from Tallahassee to Miami, and then to the airport – a seat in the plane's business class.
While still in the air, thousands of miles from the Russian border, Butina got an early taste of home when someone gave her a piece of Tula gingerbread, a renowned Russian sweet pastry.
Butina is expected to land at Moscow Sheremetyevo’s airport just after noon local time on Saturday, where she will be greeted by friends and family along with Russian and international journalists.
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