Maria Butina, the Russian gun enthusiast who pleaded guilty in the U.S. last year for conspiring to act as a foreign agent, has landed a job hosting a weekly online program, the state-owned RT network announced Tuesday.
In a promotional video shared on social media, Butina is seen wearing a t-shirt reading, “foreign agent” as news clips related to her case play intermittently.
“Well, I’m home now,” she says at the end of the video, according to a translation by Reuters.
Butina, 31, was released from prison and deported to Russia in October after serving most of an 18-month sentence. She was accused of infiltrating U.S. political organizations, including the National Rifle Association, on behalf of the Kremlin. Prosecutors said the former American University student sought to court influential Americans in order to cultivate them as Russian sources.
She has denied being a “spy” and her attorneys said her passion for gun rights and attempts at “amateur diplomacy efforts” were what led to her legal troubles. Butina and her attorneys insisted that had she known she was supposed to register as a foreign agent, she would have done so right away.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Butina was innocent and called her sentence a “travesty of justice.”
Butina’s case drew international attention amid then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s campaign to interfere in the 2016 election. Though Butina’s case was never shown to have any connection to the “sweeping and systematic” Kremlin effort identified by Mueller, the charges against her further fueled concerns about Russian interference in domestic U.S. politics.
Butina will host a show called “Wonderful Russia Bu Bu Bu,” a title that mocks the slogan of a prominent Putin critic, according to Reuters. The show will stream weekly on Wednesdays, RT said.
RT is funded by the Russian government. The network, which broadcasts in several languages, claims it offers a needed alternative voice to mainstream western media but critics allege it acts as an international propaganda tool for Putin.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Kristine Phillips and Doug Stanglin