Maria Butina and other Russian agents of influence: Ukraine case

russia ukraine war spy agents of influence

Accused Russian spy Maria Butina became an object of interest for many world media. US intelligence spied on Butina from 2016 and we will learn a lot more about the flights of this “red sparrow” in the US political space. She did not deprive Ukraine of her attention either.

Maria Butina, the “Russian student,” through establishing close contacts (often sexual) with US politicians, tried to influence the relations between the two countries in favor of Russia.
US intelligence spied on Butina from 2016 and we will learn a lot more about the flights of this “red sparrow” in the US political space.
She did not deprive Ukraine of her attention either. 2009 can be considered the beginning of Maria Butina’s spy career in Ukraine. That year she first visited the All-Russian festival “Seliger” – the breeding grounds for separatist leaders in Ukraine. Seliger prepared such agents as A. Davydchenko, P. Gubarev, etc., and it was the first to hoist the “DPR” flag.
A year later, Maria created the Public Security and Order organization and actively participated in the weapons life of Russia. In 2011, on the basis of the organization, Maria created the Right to Arms movement, which soon became a leader in the struggle for a licensing system for short-barreled guns. Shortly afterwards, the Right to Arms became a political project.
Before 2014 Butina often visited Ukraine on business. But we will return to this topic a bit later.
In the spring of 2014, Maria took an active part in the establishment of an occupation government in Crimea. She conducted outreach activities to attract arms owners to Russia’s side.
After a successful occupation of Crimea, Butina engaged in the Novorossia project. She used her influence among a certain stratum of the population calling for support of terrorists in eastern of Ukraine.
After the Novorossia project finally crashed, the Russian agent of influence Butina fell under the wing of deputy head of the Central Bank Alexandr Torshin (under US sanctions), who becomes an honorary member of the Right to Arms organization at that time. In early 2016 she was sent to the US to influence the political circles.
But a more hidden part of Maria’s work in Ukraine was in 2011 – 2013.
At that time in Ukraine Maria Butina was related to the Ukrainian Gun Owners Association (UGOA) and its leader Georgiy Uchaykin.
It is noteworthy that the UGOA appeared about the same time, when Maria started working for the GRU – after the Seliger festival in Russia. The UGOA has an almost identical program with Maria Butina’s Right to Arms, the same requirements for changing the constitution, as well as a desire to become a political movement.
Georgiy Uchaykin has a close relationship with Butina. It is proved by the fact that both are still honorary members of their friendly organizations.
Uchaykin was a guest of honor at the first congress of the Right to Arms, which was held in Moscow in 2012. And despite the fact that such people as Zhirinovsky, Okhlobystin and other Ukrainophobes took part in the congress, Uchaykin took a place of honor at the left of Maria.
On the eve of the Maidan, in autumn 2013, the second congress of the Right to Arms was held. And it also featured a guest of honor Georgiy Uchaykin.
It is to be recalled that four months after the congress, Maria would do her best to facilitate the Crimea occupation.
All this could be attributed as interests-based acquaintance before the war, had it not been for George’s activities after the outbreak of hostilities.
During the Maidan, Georgiy made low-key calls for both sides not to cross the line, and justified the Berkut’s use of prohibited ammunition. His rant “Berkut is not to blame” was necessary at that time to create Anti-Maidan’s powerful military wing and make the militia side with separatists.
In mid-2014, when fierce fighting was taking place in the east and thousands of our soldiers were dying, Uchaykin was opposing the new government and in every possible way discrediting the country with his statements, which later were negatively reflected in the reports of international organizations.
But his key role is mainly discrediting the country internationally through information.
Take, for example, one of Georgiy’s statements: “Large quantities of illegal arms are circulating throughout Ukraine. I was a participant in the meeting with the OSCE mission. According the Special Monitoring Mission, illegal weapons are already trafficked from Ukraine to the countries of Europe (Western – Ed.). According to experts, the guns fired in Paris during the attack on Charlie Hebdo were 70-80% likely of Ukrainian origin.”
Needless to say, such statements cause serious reputational losses to Ukraine. People living in the EU are afraid of a country where every eighth citizen, including children and the elderly, walk around with guns bought on the black market.
Huge reputational losses also result from the report of the international association Small Arms Survey which closely cooperates with the UN. It is this organization’s data that Georgiy refers to in his interviews.
Well, let’s take a closer look at this report. It really has information about “5 million illegal arms in Ukraine.” (page 3.) There is a reference to note No.2 at the top of this phrase. The very note can be found on page 7. It indicates the source of the statement — an article by Belarusian journalist Karmanau. Let us see References (page 8) to find this article. We read it and see that in his article, Belarusian journalist Karmanau quotes Georgiy Uchaykin’s phrase about 5 million illegal arms in Ukraine.

“Georgiy Uchaykin who heads the Ukrainian Gun Owners Association has estimated that currently Ukrainians illegally own 5 million firearms.”

Interestingly, the second expert in this article is Nadia Savchenko, who also says that Ukraine has a very large black market of illegal weapons.
Thus, when Georgiy Uchaykin refers to the Small Arms Survey data, he refers only to his personal groundless assertion. And his flood, in numerous interviews, led to the fact that groundless statements that damage Ukraine’s reputation are included in international reports.
One of the main parts of the hybrid war is information aggression. No international organization will agree to help Somalia, whoever would attack it. The Russians have long understood this. So the first step of their aggression is launching an information attack.
To blame Ukraine for involvement in international terrorism, to compare our country with Somalia, to tell the OSCE about the supply of illegal weapons from Ukraine to Europe — all this is the rhetoric of the GRU methodologies. However, all this is pronounced by an agent of influence.
As we can see, Russian agents of influece like Maria Butina and her Ukrainian friend Georgiy Uchaykin may disguise as patriots, politicians, military and public figures. They will always talk about their work for the benefit of the people using hot-button issues as a cover.


Image credits: NGO Oberig

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