Media hysteria over Russia has reached a new high, or perhaps low depending upon one’s perspective, with this week’s arrest of a 29-year-old woman now “linked” to a nationally-known American Second Amendment advocate who has worked for years on expanding global gun rights.
Before noon Thursday, Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), had done nearly a dozen interviews. That was after he spoke with a reporter from the Seattle Times about his acquaintance with Maria Butina, now sitting in a Washington, D.C. jail for allegedly “working as a foreign agent while living in the United States,” according to Fox News.
Gottlieb has told them all essentially the same thing. He met Butina some six years ago at a conference on gun rights in Moscow. He, and his wife, Julianne Versnel, appeared in a photo with Butina and a Russian banking official and his wife. Butina was part of a Russian movement called Right to Arms, according to the Seattle Times.
While the government is alleging that Butina “gained access” to “an extensive network of U.S. persons in positions to influence political activities” in this country, Gottlieb is both amused and alarmed. He told CFL that she seemed very devoted to gun rights for Russian citizens, and that his dealings with her were completely above board.
Seattle-area media know Gottlieb and he’s accessible. So when a national story, especially with a Russia overtone, provided a local angle, reporters got busy. Adding a juicy dimension to the story was its link to a national gun rights figure.
The opportunity to link an alleged Russian agent to a gun rights advocate simply adds a juicy new angle to the story, some people have quietly suggested.
The New York Post calls Butina “Russia’s new sexy red-headed spy.” Gottlieb told the Seattle Times that after having met Butina “around 2012,” she contacted him to ask if her Right to Arms group could affiliate with SAF. At the time, Gottlieb was directing lots of energy to the then-fledgling International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR).
Following Butina’s arrest, Gottlieb was stunned. He questions the government’s allegation that Butina is an “unregistered foreign agent.”
Whether anything beyond a few sensational headlines comes from this remains to be seen. As for the angst over Russian meddling in an American election, he recalled that nobody complained this loudly when the Obama administration got involved in foreign elections.
As revealed by Fox Business in an interview with Judicial Watch Director of Research Chris Farrell, “State Department records show USAID used taxpayer funds to back billionaire investor George Soros’s left-wing political operations in other countries.”
The Washington Times reported that the Obama State Department “paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers grants to an Israeli group that used the money to build a campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”