On Friday, Russian operative and NRA activist Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months in a U.S. prison for conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent.
The next day, Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted her sentence, calling it a tactic from the United States to avoid looking “totally stupid,” according to the Guardian.
“It’s an outrage,” Putin told reporters after an event in Beijing on Saturday. “It’s not clear what she was convicted of or what crime she committed. I think it’s a prime example of ‘saving face.’ What crime did she commit?”
Butina was arrested in July following allegations she was acting as a Russian spy by creating and maintaining close relationships with Americans to infiltrate government organizations and advance the Russian Federation. Her boyfriend and business partner, Paul Erickson, was indicted for wire fraud charges in February for a different case.
In Butina’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Butina was not considered a spy in the traditional sense, but still deemed her a threat to national security, according to NBC News. After serving her sentence, she will be deported.
At the time of her arrest, Butina had recently graduated from a master’s program at American University. In her trial, she claimed she had been trying to improve Russia’s relationship with the United States, but admitted she did not go through the proper channels to do so.
"It has never been my intention to harm American people, but I did so by not notifying your government. It has harmed my attempts to improve relations," she said, according to NBC News. “I have three degrees, but now I’m a convicted felon with no money, no job, and no freedom.”