27 Mar 2019 16:33

Butina incarcerated in U.S. losing weight due to prison food, long period of stress - newspaper

MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) - Russian citizen Maria Butina, who is incarcerated in the United States, has been losing weight because of the long period of stress and unhealthy food, yet her father Valery Butin hopes that Maria will be sentenced before April 15 and deported to Russia, the newspaper Izvestia said on Wednesday.

"On the whole, Masha is alright, she is cheerful and does not complain much because she does not want us to worry. This is the kind of person she is. We know, however, that she is losing weight. As you understand, prison menu is neither diverse nor healthy. Besides, she is experiencing a strong stress and simply cannot eat sometimes," Butin told Izvestia.

"The whole family hopes that Maria will be sentenced before April 15 and will be able to return home," he said.

"According to lawyers, the attorney agreed to a six-month sentence on Maria, which would include the time she has spent in custody. She will be deported to Russia after the verdict is pronounced," Butin said.

According to Butin, the judge has the final say and does not have to accept a six-month sentence, the judge might opt for a longer sentence.

"Masha is actively exercising to avoid falling into depression. She also reads a lot after she has found a number of books by Russian classical writers in the local library. She is helping another inmate study math for passing secondary education tests," Butin said.

The U.S. Justice Department charged Butina on July 16, 2018, with conspiring and acting as a foreign agent without duly notifying the attorney general. According to investigators, Butina had been advancing Russian interests at least since 2015 and used her personal connections with an American who had influence on the U.S. policy.

Butina pleaded guilty of some counts in a U.S. court on December 13, 2018. She said that she had breached U.S. laws regulating the activity of foreign agents and conspired with a U.S. citizen (presumably, Republican Party political consultant Paul Erickson) for reaching out to Americans with political weight. A top punishment is five years in prison. The next hearing of the Butina case is scheduled to take place on March 28.