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Prosecutors admit false witness against Russian Maria Butina, jailed in US

Anti Russian hysteria dominates US government’s reasoning for refusal of bond proceedings for the 29 year old student.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The New Cold War, like any way, claims the innocent just as easily as the guilty. At The Duran, we have been following the story of Maria Butina, the Russian gun-rights activist who was jailed in the US on charges of being an “unregistered foreign agent” in July of this year.

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According to an article in RT published Sunday, September 9th, the American prosecutors were forced to step back and admit that they wrongly accused Ms Butina of offering sex in exchange for a job, apparently part of the core accusation which she is currently sitting in jail for.

US prosecutors … admitted that they wrongly accused Maria Butina, the Russian gun activist jailed in the US on charges of being an unregistered “foreign agent,” of offering sex in exchange for a job.

Days after Butina was arrested in July, Assistant US Attorney Erik M. Kenerson claimed she was offering an individual “sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.” The claim, which caused a storm in the mainstream media, has been disputed by her defense attorney Robert Driscoll.

However, in a filing on Friday, prosecutors in the US attorney’s office in Washington, including Kenerson, stressed that the July allegation “was based both on a series of text messages between the defendant and another individual.” They admitted that the “government’s understanding of this particular text conversation was mistaken.” 

Commenting on the Friday filing, Driscoll said that the US government has “enormous power to destroy lives and reputations through the criminal process…This is an unfortunate example of the misuse of that power. I’m glad the false allegation has been acknowledged, but it’s a hard bell to unring,” he told the Washington Post.

Butina, a Russian national lobbying for looser gun controls in her home country, moved to the US on a student visa in 2016. She graduated from American University in Washington DC with a master’s degree in international relations earlier this year. In July, she was arrested on charges of acting as a foreign agent without registering with the US government.

In August, Butina was unexpectedly transferred to another prison. According to the Russian embassy, which repeatedly described the arrest as politically motivated, Butina’s current conditions border on torture. “We have more and more questions for the US justice system,” the embassy said at the time. “Should allegations pressed against Maria before the actual trial condemn her to practices that are slightly below torture?” 

The embassy previously complained that Butina is being subjected to unwarranted strip searches and denied proper medical care, all in an attempt to “break her will.” Driscoll also confirmed to RT that she was experiencing health problems in jail, bus has been deprived proper treatment.

Butina’s charges make her case quite unusual, Driscoll believes, as the law basically makes otherwise legal actions of an individual prosecutable. “There’s no allegation of espionage, there’s no allegation of classified information, there’s no allegation she was paying anyone off, there’s no allegation she was recruiting spies. None of the things you would typically see in an espionage case,” he told RT back in August.

The documentation explaining the US government’s opposition to Ms Butina’s motion for a bond review, which is available for viewing in full here, tells a story of Maria’s alleged danger as a “Russian agent” in much the same manner as a good novel builds its story. While she came to the US to study and learn about American gun rights and the way gun rights are handled in the United States, admittedly for the intent of bolstering a similar push for gun rights in the Russian Federation, the government’s document sidesteps this and instead casts Butina as a “Russian agent” simply because she was living in the US and working with people in the gun lobby.

Given the context of Russophobia, it is remarkable in exactly the way that her defense attorney stated above. There is no allegation of espionage. There is no allegation of moving classified information out of the US, no allegation she was recruiting spies, and no allegation that she was trying to hurt the United States or its interests.

It appears that she was jailed simply because she is a Russian national with an interest in US politics. Nothing more. 

TASS reported further in a piece dated September 5 that Ms. Butina’s parents appealed for help to the Russian High Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatiana Moskalkova:

“I turned to [Moskalkova], [asked her] to stand up for [Maria] and help her come back to homeland,” Valery Butin said.

Earlier, Moskalkova was reported to call upon the US Attorney General, the international community, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, General Secretary of the Council of Europe Thorbj·rn Jagland, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for assistance in Maria Butina’s case.

According to Valery Butin, the next court hearing, scheduled for September 10, is expected to consider that she could be placed under house arrest with electronic monitoring of her whereabouts.

“Maria feels good but the hard sleep-wake cycle remains in place,” Butin added.

Maria’s father said earlier that when he was talking to his daughter by phone, she was not complaining about prison conditions, except the daily routine. Due to administrative segregation that had been imposed on her, she has to stay awake at night. In other words, she is allowed to make phone calls at about 1:00 a.m. Washington time (8:00 Moscow time), he added.

The efforts of the US government to create its case against this student are reminiscent of the relocation camps build for Japanese Americans living in the United States during World War II. When asked about why these people, who had done absolutely nothing untoward the United States, were being incarcerated purely on the basis of national origin, the reply from none less than the Westerd Defense Command head, General John L. DeWitte. He created the grounds for mass incarceration by stating, “The fact that nothing has happened so far is more or less … ominous in that I feel that in view of the fact that we have had no sporadic attempts at sabotage that there is a control being exercised and when we have it, it will be on a mass basis.”

While this regrettable comment is certainly understandable in times of real war, there is no war going on between the US and Russia, except for the narrative and economic war the US has waged against the Russian Federation since 2013. The reaction of Russian citizens living in the United States as well as those living in Russia is uniform sadness and frustration as hysteria, and not law, continue to be the order of the day for the United States with regard to Russia and her people.

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wiggins
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wiggins

What’s with the new commenting format?

Tjoe
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Tjoe

I love it….I kept writing emails about Disqus new policy and remained locked out of commenting. I certainly don’t agree to their new (2) policies and am locked out from my Disqus account, thus could not comment at Duran….and commenting by real people is important to me. Yea Duran!

Raymond Comeau
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Raymond Comeau

The worm has turned. The trumped up case against Maria Butinais now left with 2 jailed phony witnesses who would have been against her.

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Bercow blocks Brexit vote, May turns to EU for lifeline (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s latest Brexit dilemma, as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, shocked the world by citing a 1604 precedent that now effectively blocks May’s third go around at trying to pass her treacherous Brexit deal through the parliament.

All power now rests with the Brussels, as to how, if and when the UK will be allowed to leave the European Union.

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Via Bloomberg


Theresa May claims Brexit is about taking back control. Ten days before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union, it looks like anything but.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s intervention, citing precedent dating back to 1604, to rule out a repeat vote on May’s already defeated departure deal leaves the prime minister exposed ahead of Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels.

Bercow, whose cries of “Orrdurrr! Orrdurrr!’’ to calm rowdy lawmakers have gained him a devoted international following, is now the pivotal figure in the Brexit battle. May’s team privately accuse him of trying to frustrate the U.K.’s exit from the EU, while the speaker’s admirers say he’s standing up for the rights of parliament against the executive.

If just one of the 27 other states declines May’s summit appeal to extend the divorce timetable, then the no-deal cliff edge looms for Britain’s departure on March 29. If they consent, it’s unclear how May can meet Bercow’s test that only a substantially different Brexit agreement merits another vote in parliament, since the EU insists it won’t reopen negotiations.

Caught between Bercow and Brussels, May’s room for maneuver is shrinking. Amid rumblings that their patience with the U.K. is near exhaustion, EU leaders are girding for the worst.

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President Putin signs law blocking fake news, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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ABC’s Ted Koppel admits mainstream media bias against Trump [Video]

The mainstream news media has traded informing the public for indoctrinating them, but the change got called out by an “old-school” journo.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported on March 19th that one of America’s most well-known TV news anchors, Ted Koppel, noted that the once-great media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have indeed traded journalistic excellence for hit pieces for political purposes. While political opinions in the mainstream press are certainly within the purview of any publication, this sort of writing can hardly be classified as “news” but as “Opinion” or more widely known, “Op-Ed.”

We have two videos on this. The first is the original clip showing the full statement that Mr. Koppel gave. It is illuminating, to say the least:

Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, a former colleague of Mr. Koppel, added their comments on this admission in this second short video piece, shown here.

There are probably a number of people who have watched this two-year onslaught of slander and wondered why there cannot be a law preventing this sort of misleading reporting. Well, Russia passed a law to stop it, hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook. It is a smart law because it does not advocate imprisonment for bad actors in the media, but it does fine them.

Going to prison for reporting “the truth” looks very noble. Having to pay out of pocket for it is not so exciting.

Newsmax and Louder with Crowder both reported on this as well.

This situation of dishonest media has led to an astonishing 77% distrust rating among Americans of their news media, this statistic being reported by Politico in 2018. This represents a nearly diametric reversal in trust from the 72% trust rating the country’s news viewers gave their news outlets in 1972. These statistics come from Gallup polls taken through the years.

 

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