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Josh Meyer @JoshMeyerDC
, 9 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
“She had tickets for stuff there,” the source added. “Movie nights, things like that.” Accused Russian agent met with suspected Kremlin spy who headed Russian "cultural center" in DC that's been a suspected Kremlin spy hub for many years. @POLITICO
The state-run Russian Cultural Center in DC and parent org Rossotrudnichestvo also have come up in two separate ways in the Trump-Russia probes by Congress & Special Counsel Robert Mueller, including re: Michael Cohen's alleged mtg with Kremlin spooks in Prague (which he denies)
Mueller also has probed the Russian Cultural Center (aka Centre) as part of a reportedly broad inquiry into millions of dollars in payments involving the Russian embassy, former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak & several Moscow businessmen linked to Putin
And the suspected spy @politico id'd today, Oleg Zhiganov, came to DC after the FBI investigated his predecessor Yury Zaitsev in 2013 for allegedly using the center’s cultural exchange programs to recruit young Americans as spies. He denied it, then bolted
The Russian Cultural Centre, which bills itself as “the official home of Russian culture in the United States,” was established as part of a bilateral agreement in the enthusiastic aftermath of the 1985 summit between Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Mariia Butina, charged last week as an unregistered Russian agent in U.S., met with Zhiganov after he invited her to dinner at a French bistro. And when the two met up, federal agents were watching — and snapping surveillance photos.
The investigation to date doesn't show “they were best friends [or] that there was a longstanding relationship,” a source told @politico but @TheJusticeDept says it's still processing as much as 12 TERABYTES of data found on Butina’s phones, computers or about 3 million documents
But Butina says she's innocent, one of 1000s of foreign students trying to make friends in DC. Her lawyer told @Politico that DOJ's claim her dinner w/ Zhiganov had some nefarious purpose (they say he left the US soon after) is more innuendo, false claims & guilt by association
Another hearing in the Butina case is set for Aug. 8, as DOJ seeks a blanket gag order in case and her lawyer wants a copy of everything seized from her. And it's not just millions of digital documents. They also have her diary, which she apparently wrote in. A lot... Stay tuned.
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