Let Me Tell You About My Friend Maria Butina
Before Orlando, Paul told us Maria’s biography in disjointed snippets. Snippets that, when sewn together, never smoothed to a cohesive timeline. Maria was raised in Siberia. Paul told us that when he visited her family in Russia, he used the outdoor sauna and her parents smacked him with wooden sticks, a Russian tradition. She only saw her parents once a year, a fact which saddened her greatly. She started a furniture-store chain in her early 20s. At some point, she became the president of the Russian equivalent of the NRA, which explained the glamour shots of her holding machine guns. She
was close to Alexander Torshin, a prominent Russian banker with ties to President Vladimir Putin, and longtime NRA donor. Currently, Torshin is at the
center of an FBI investigation into whether Russian money funneled into the NRA went onto the Trump campaign.