In this photo taken on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin then a member of the Russian upper house of parliament in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)
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When Maria Butina arrived in Moscow from Siberia in 2011 to launch a Russian version of the National Rifle Association, her shooting range coach said she didn't even know how to fire a weapon. She learned fast, but her far-fetched bid to liberalize gun rights in Russia flamed out. By the time she arrived in Washington in 2014 to network with the NRA, she was peddling a Russian gun rights movement that was already dead.U.S. court papers suggest the movement was a ruse, allowing Butina and influential patron Alexander Torshin to infiltrate the NRA and pursue covert Russian back channels to U.S. conservatives as U.S. President Donald Trump rose to power.Butina and Torshin – a longtime senator who's now deputy governor of Russia's central bank – suffered no punishment for openly championing gun rights, even though many in Russia's leadership see the idea as subversive.Torshin met Butina in 2011, and they began collaborating on legislation to liberalize pistol ownership, according to those involved.But when Torshin submitted the bill in July 2012, it was torn apart.
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