The NRA’s Russia connections have drawn growing public scrutiny after a key figure in Russian outreach to the powerful gun lobby, Maria Butina, was indicted in July on charges of being an undeclared Russian operative connected to the country’s intelligence apparatus. Butina sought to use guns as a lever to tilt the Republican Party in a pro-Kremlin direction, creating a political firestorm for the NRA in the wake of her arrest. The intelligence committee’s document request is just one part of the aftermath.
Butina, whose Russian political patron Alexander Torshin is a senior figure in the country’s powerful central bank, ran a Russian gun-rights organization called the Right to Bear Arms. In December 2015, the group sponsored an NRA delegation to come to Moscow for a week. NRA dignitaries also met with another influential Russian, the former deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin. Torshin subsequently came under U.S. sanctions; Rogozin had been under sanctions since 2014.