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Sat Jul 21, 2018, 12:45 PM

Red Sparrow spoke at USF St. Petersburg FL world affairs conference

While federal prosecutors believe Maria Butina was organizing a shadow campaign to influence American politics ahead of the 2016 election on behalf of Russia, she spoke at a conference at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg on world affairs.

Butina, 29, tried to broker a private meeting between then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2016, according to the New York Times. And she used a gun-rights organization, reported to be the National Rifle Association, and the National Prayer Breakfast as conduits through which she tried to soften American political views on Russia, federal court records show. She was arrested Sunday, accused of being a covert Russian agent.

In the meantime, Butina attended the 2016 St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs, hosted at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg that February.

There, she participated on two panels, one called "Gun Rights, Mental Health Rights/ Where Should Societies Draw the Line?" That panel explored how other countries balance gun control and gun rights, and sought to have both conservative and liberal viewpoints, according to conference organizers, via USFSP spokesman Matt Cimitile. She served on that panel with USF family studies Professor Mary Armstrong; Howard Simon, the retiring executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida; and documentary filmmaker Meg Moritz. It was moderated by USF history and politics Professor Raymond Arsenault.


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