Real Life Black Widow Maria Butina Pleads Guilty
Comics aim to mimic things in the real world all the time, but it is surreal when things in the [...]
Comics aim to mimic things in the real world all the time, but it is surreal when things in the real world give you a sense of deja vu from the comics, and that is certainly the case with real-life Russian Black Widow Maria Butina.
Butina pled guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent today, who was in the service of Russia during the time she is being charged for. Butina said she was "under direction of" a Russian official who is suspected to be Alexander Torshin, who until last month was the deputy director of Russia's central bank (via VICE News).
Prosecutors say that Butina's main goal was to develop and secure relationships with American politicians, utilizing her contacts within the NRA to help with that goal0. On Wednesday she agreed to cooperate for a lesser prison sentence, as she currently faces five years. As a result, she admitted to the court that she took part in a "Diplomacy Project" in March of 2015, a project funded by a Russian billionaire. The project would have her meeting with GOP presidential candidates and NRA leaders in the United States.
Not only might Butina be a Russian spy, but she also sports red hair just like Natasha Romanoff in the comics. Seriously, the only thing missing is a Widows Bite.
Butina is also expected to reveal information about her one-time boyfriend and political player Paul Erikson, who has visited her in prison since her arrest. His lawyer released a statement, saying "Paul Erickson is a good American. He has never done anything to hurt our country and never would."
Butina's role was more about access than field ops according to former CIA officer John Sipher, who was based in Moscow.
"She was likely not a staff officer, but what we call an 'access agent,'" Sipher told VICE News. "That is, she was working for the Russian services as a source to help them spot, assess and target Americans."
Others aren't so sure this is your traditional case of espionage and you can count Russia security serves expert Mark Galeotti in that category.
"To me, this is nothing to do with espionage as we think of it," Galeotti told VICE News. "I think it's more nuanced and stranger than that. To me, this looks more like freelancing in an environment in which the Kremlin has made it very clear that it's keen to entertain freelancing," Galeotti said. "The Kremlin wants people to go out there and be active, but isn't going to tell people how to do it."
Guess we'll just have to wait and see how this story develops.