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Report: Russian Billionaire Bankrolled Maria Butina’s Activities

Maria Butina, the Russian woman accused of working as a Kremlin agent on U.S. soil, reportedly received financial backing from Russian billionaire and transportation magnate Konstantin Nikolaev. A source cited by The Washington Post on Sunday said Butina testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in April that Nikolaev provided funding for a gun rights group she represented. Federal prosecutors had also written in court documents that Butina’s emails frequently referred to a billionaire “funder.” Prosecutors stopped short of naming the mysterious billionaire but described him as a “known Russian businessman with deep ties to the Russian Presidential Administration.” Nikolaev, who has major investments in U.S. energy and technology companies, has no known direct links to President Trump but a few indirect ones. He sits on the board of American Ethane, a Houston-based company showcased by Trump at an event in China last year, and his son, Andrey, volunteered in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to the Post.