Dismissed by international organizations as neither free or fair, the elections for the Russian Duma (Parliament) October 12 yielded at least one new member who is beginning to catch the world’s eyes.

While living in Washington, D.C., and attending graduate school, Russian native Maria Butina was arrested by the FBI in 2018 and charged with not registering as a foreign agent.

She eventually pled guilty in court and was sentenced to an 18-month prison sentence. After 14 months in jail (including her time awaiting trial), Butina was deported to her home country in 2019 and quickly became a reporter on RT (Russian Television, widely dubbed by critics as “Putin TV” for its favorable coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin).

Now 32, she is a member of the Duma elected on the ticket of the United Russia Party controlled by Putin (who, interestingly, insisted he never heard of Butina following her arrest and imprisonment in the US).

Two years after her deportation, Butina remains a topic of controversy in the U.S. Some conservatives who met her at the National Prayer Breakfast or National Rifle Association forums insist that the FBI and the courts went too far, that — while clearly guilty of not registering as a foreign agent — she never infiltrated a government agency or stole a classified document.

Others insist that Butina was becoming a fixture at conservative and religious events in the U.S. to secretly establish a back-channel between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government. 

Electing controversial figures to the Duma now comes with nearly every election. Elected with Butin was retired General Andrei Kartapolov, who is on the European Union sanctions list for “undermining or threatening” Ukrainian independence.

In 2014, amid widespread conclusions that Malaysian Airliner MH17 was shot down by a Russian Buk Missile, Kartapolov insisted it was shot down by Ukraine fighter jets.

John Gizzi is Roaring Patriot’s chief political columnist and White House correspondent. He is “the man who knows everyone in Washington” as well as many who hold elected positions and party leadership roles throughout America. He has appeared on countless radio and TV shows in America and Europe. He is the recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.