The Guardian

Maria Butina’s alleged backer linked to Kremlin-financed bank and Putin associates

Revealed: Konstantin Nikolaev, who reportedly financed Butina, worked with two banks and two oligarchs who are under US sanctions
Maria Butina in 2012. She has been charged with working to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) and influence US politics. Photograph: Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation/EPA

The Russian billionaire said to have given financial support to a woman charged with spying for Moscow in Washington has received funding from Kremlin-backed banks and has ties to close associates of Vladimir Putin.

Konstantin Nikolaev worked with two banks and two oligarchs who are all now under US sanctions. Nikolaev was also appointed to a Russian military advisory panel, while his wife has a senior role at a state-backed arms company.

Maria Butina, a 29-year-old Russian woman charged with working to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) and influence US politics, told senate investigators that Nikolaev, a transportation magnate, gave her financial backing, according to a source with knowledge of her testimony.

Butina , according to US prosecutors, who say she was

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