Russian agent Butina: I don't know if there's 'one grand giant plan' by Russians in US

Russian agent Maria Butina denied this week that she was part of "one grand giant plan" orchestrated by Russia to interfere in U.S. politics.

"It wouldn't be appropriate to say that this was all one grand giant plan and I'm a part of some grand giant plan," she said in an interview with NPR published Friday. "There is no proof of that. And I have no knowledge that there is a certain plan."

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"I never hide my love to my motherland neither to this country … I love both countries, and I was building peace."

Butina was sentenced in April to serve 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent on behalf of the Russian government. She will be deported upon completion of her term.

Butina’s case captured national attention after it was revealed that she gained access to the National Rifle Association and arranged, at one point, for members to travel to Moscow.

She was also found to have worked with Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank and a former Russian senator who reportedly has close ties to President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTop Democrat accuses White House of obstructing review related to Trump-Putin communications Trump on addressing election interference with Putin: 'I may' Beware the Bolton path to US military strikes on Iran MORE and alleged connections to the Russian mob. 

The government, though it did not name Torshin, said Butina was acting under the orders of a Russian official, alleging that she was funneling information to him about Americans who could influence policies in Russia's favor.

Butina told NPR that the allegations against her stem from a misunderstanding and cast herself as a gun-rights activist who was seeking to be a "peace-builder" between the U.S. and Russia.

"It has been my goal all the way. … I believe that the relationships and their strength … depends on people, depends on what they call civil diplomacy. On people who have similar interests. Similar hobbies. Similar minds, like people who, let's say … who are Christians who share the faith — or people who share love to guns. That's exactly the point that I was addressing. I was building unofficial communication of civil diplomacy," she told NPR. 

Russian officials have sought to portray Butina as a kind of political prisoner, with consular officials visiting her in jail and Moscow politicians featuring her in the country's government-run channels, according to NPR. 

Moscow has also detained Paul Whelan, an American citizen, in what is viewed as a retaliation to Butina’s arrest.