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Russian Communists demand election ban for candidate Butina over alleged foreign funding, two years after she was deported from US

Russian Communists demand election ban for candidate Butina over alleged foreign funding, two years after she was deported from US
Russia’s Communist Party has demanded that RT TV host Maria Butina be banned from running in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections because of allegations that she owns foreign shares and once received “foreign funding.”

In 2019, Butina was deported back to Russia after serving over a year in a US prison on charges of being a foreign agent for Moscow.

The demand came from the Communist branch in the Kirov region, where Butina is due to run in September as a candidate of United Russia, the county’s ruling party.

It is alleged that she received a payment from an American named Patrick Byrne, the owner of a cryptocurrency trading company who “cooperates with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The Communists also accused her of owning “foreign bonds and shares of 34 foreign companies” and supposedly got this information from the Central Election Committee (CEC).

Also on rt.com READ: From hormone treatment to punishment in solitary, Maria Butina’s book lays bare her US prison horror and what she saw there

According to Russian law, political candidates are prohibited from holding accounts and valuables in foreign banks and are forbidden from using foreign financial instruments.

“Therefore, it is necessary to remove Maria Valeryevna Butina from the party list of United Russia for the upcoming elections to the State Duma,” a statement from the Communists said.

In response, Butina explained that she had previously held assets abroad, but no longer owns them, as per the rules.

“By the time I submitted the documents for registration as a candidate for the State Duma, I was no longer a holder of foreign securities as required by Russian law” she claimed, noting that her documents had been checked by the CEC.

“I consider the statement by the regional branch of the Communist Party as an attempt to score political points with my name. Apparently, this party has no good ways to improve its rating,” she said.

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Butina, who was born in the Siberian city of Barnaul, became known worldwide in 2018 when she was found guilty of acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the US. After almost a year in pre-trial detention, she spent five months in the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, a minimum-security prison in Florida, before being deported to Moscow. After coming home, she became a host for RT’s Russian-language service. She is also a member of the Russian Public Chamber.

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