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Alleged Russian Agent Maria Butina Pleads Guilty

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Alleged Russian secret agent Maria Butina pleaded guilty Thursday for attempting to covertly influence U.S. policy toward Russia.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to operate as an unlisted foreign agent and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Butina allegedly sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics, including the National Rifle Association.

Prosecutors said Butina acted "under direction of" a Russian official believed to be Alexander Torshin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank.

A report from CNN suggested Butina's guilty plea and agreement to cooperate comes with the hope that prosecutors will ask for a reduced sentence.

Butina's case was not handled by special counsel Robert Mueller but provides further evidence of Russian efforts to meddle in U.S. politics.

(Photo: Pavel Starikov)

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