What a Tennessee businessman told The Washington Post years ago may shed a very bright light on why many Republicans are looking the other way on Russia: “The value system of Southern Christians and the value system of Russians are very much in line.” Many of those ‘Southern Christians’ are lock-step behind Pres. Donald Trump, the National Rifle Association, Republicans in Congress, and a wider national movement.
Alexander Torshin, a former Russian banker and senator, accused crime lord in Spain, who is likely under investigation in the U.S., is tethered to Maria Butina, the young Russian from Siberia who came to America to attend American University and then, with Torshin, weave herself into the fabric of conservative American politics via a close affiliation with the the NRA.
It’s said she is a gun lover. She may be. Or, it may be she became a gun lover because the NRA, particularly via the leadership of the group, was surely a good spot to land if one was looking to get next to connected, often wealthy, high-level conservative Republicans.
Butina was indicted and then arrested by the U. S. Department of Justice charged as a spy a few days ago.
Butina’s story cannot be told without telling Torshin’s.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Aleksandr Porfiryevich Torshin, Known in the U.S. by the Traditional Western Spelling, Alexander, is a Top Official at the Russian National Bank. Torshin Has Close Ties to Vladimir Putin
Alexander Torshin, 64, is a Russian lawyer, politician, and banker, and may be in the Russian mafia, the latter is not confirmed but alleged by investigators. According to his (translated) bio on the Bank of Russia, born in the Kamchatka region of the USSR in 1953, he served in the Soviet army from 1973 to 1975, earned a degree in law, was a Soviet prosecutor, and then, in the early 1990s, began a career in politics.
Torshin has had scores of titles but suffice that he spent decades working for the Russian Federation, the Russian government in various roles from “employee of the department for relations with socio-political organizations of the apparatus of the CPSU Central Committee” to more than a decade as a senator.
From 1995 to 1998, Torshin was the State Secretary of the Bank of Russia, “was responsible for interaction with government bodies, public organizations and the media” and later, moved up the ranks in the Federation. In 2004, he joined the party of Putin, United Russia. In 2015, he was appointed as State Secretary Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia.
Torshin is a member of you-name-it in the Russian Federation including as “member of the Presidential Commission on Countering Attempts falsification of history to the detriment of Russia’s interests.”
Torshin is married, has two daughters and a granddaughter.
Close to Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin, Torshin has a rather sophisticated TorshinInfo.com website.
2. Under Investigation in Spain For Ties to Russian and Spanish Organized Crime, Torshin’s Called ‘El Padrino,’ The Godfather’
Months ago Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reported on the probe in Spain into Torshin’s close connections to violent Russian organized crime. In wiretaps of calls between convicted Russian money-washer Alexander Romanov and Torshin, the former calls the former Russian senator, “El Padrino.” Romanov, head of the organized crime family called the Tambovskaya Gang, was locked up in 2016 and authorities in Spain have evidence that Torshin was up to his neck in money laundering for the mafia, so far up in fact that he was the head, they allege. Spanish prosecutors were prepared to arrest Torshin when he was supposed to arrive in Spain for an event but he didn’t show and law enforcement there think he was tipped off by a cooperating witness.
The Spanish authorities did give the FBI what it asked for: secret wiretaps collected as part of Spain’s investigation into organized crime where Torshin emerged as a key figure. Isikoff reported that the Spanish prosecutor confirmed “conversations involving Torshin“ led to a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at the NRA’s yearly meeting in 2016. Trump Jr. says it was an aside, not a meeting.
3. Torshin’s Former Employee at the Central Bank, Maria Butina, is the Now-Accused Spy Indicted by the US DOJ
Butina, who came to the U.S. on a student visa, was Torshin’s “special Assistant” at the Russian central band. She identified as a gun-lover. It’s alleged she and Torshin infiltrated the NRA. Butina, 29, was arrested in Washington, D.C., was indicted for “infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics” to advance the interests of her home country, Russia.
It’s been widely reported that Butina and Torshin built and nurtured relationships with high level GOP political operatives and politicians. The indictment against Butina reads that she, and possibly Torhein, met with an unnamed political candidate in 2015 at the annual NRA conference.
The indictment lays out Russian efforts, and in particular those efforts of Butina and Torshin, to use the NRA portal into the world of American GOP and conservative politics at the highest levels. The two become lifetime members and it’s now widely reported the lengths to which Butina would go to further ingratiate herself into the Republican machine. The New York Times reported that Butina allegedly offered to trade sex of influence, it was reported.
4. In 2011, Butina & Torshin Created the Russian Equivalent of the NRA, the ‘The Right to Bear Arms’ & Invited the NRA Over to Russia
The Russian group ‘The Right to Bear Arms,’ was created in 2011 by Butina and Torshin as a home-country style NRA.
Eighteen months later, Butina and Torhin had NRA president David Keene, the gun lobby’s board member Pete Brownell, who owns a gun parts company, Butina’s partner and longtime conservative political operative Paul Erickson, and then Milwaukee County sheriff (and still controversial Trump supporter) David Clarke.
Clarke, Keene and John Bolton, now Trump’s national security advisor, all made promotional videos for the Russian’s ‘Right to Bear Arms’ group.
In the ’13 get-together in Moscow, the NRA members joined Torshin and Butina and other Russians including the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Rogozin had been sanctioned by the U.S. for his involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
5. Torshin is Reportedly Under Investigation by the FBI For Allegedly Running Money Through the NRA to Benefit Trump
Based on a number of reports, Torshin is himself currently under federal investigation for money laundering n behalf of the Russian government through the NRA in an attempt to help the Trump campaign. The NRA donated at least $30 million to help get Trump and other Republicans elected.
Torshin was sanctioned by the US Treasury earlier this year and had his assets frozen. He was also barred from entering the country.