An open letter to Maria Butunoi from her victims

Few people know that before coming to USA Butina has very successfully gained the confidence of the Russian opposition, participated in the Russian human rights and opposition projects, and none spoke with her activists had no idea that it can work for a government Agency. In parallel Butina for all his «opposition» continued to work for Alexander Torshin in his tenure as a Senator, participated in the organization of the visit of representatives of the NRA in Russia (including Paul Erickson) and not had any problems with the FSB.

Alexander Torshin, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation until 2011, then — Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank, a life member of the National rifle Association of the United States. Butina, who worked as special assistant to Torshina for several years, says that he directed her actions in the States.

Paul Erickson — conservative from South Dakota, which Butina was in a relationship and through whom, presumably, were trying to establish a connection between Republicans and Moscow.

Only after the arrest of Mary in July 2018, when revealed the whole story of her activities and relationships on human rights defenders was horrified to realize that she couldn’t imagine what the person they considered like-minded. Even in the summer I talked to another girl who knew Butino in that period, human rights activist Julia Huseynova, and was amazed at how humane and forgiving she reacted to Butinai. It seems to me that after the sufferings and rethinking many of their actions Maria, as never before, will be able to receive the information that the people she betrayed, forgave her. And maybe this strong and noble act on their part to keep her from participation in the promotion and other adventures of the Russian authorities to return home.

Yulia Guseinova, in turn, fully endorsed the text of the letter and also expressed a desire to sign him. We wish Maria a speedy return home and really started a new life.

An open letter to Maria Butunoi

Dear Masha!

We don’t know you personally, but I, like many journalists, for a long time and details have followed your story. I know how you communicated with dissidents in Russia at a time when it was working for the government. Trust me, your arrest was a shock to these people. All the time while you worked with them, they fully believed you could not imagine that, quote, you had a «second bottom». I have no doubt that you were telling about your relationship to the confidants to the authorities of the friends as well as told them about his contacts with the Americans, and can only hope that it has not led to the Russian opposition a new repression and prison sentences.

But I want you to know that these people have never gloated, never meant to hurt you, not condemn you for cheating. I personally spoke with a very bright and courageous girl Julia Huseynova from the Association of Russian lawyers for human rights. Learning about your arrest, the only thing she wanted to know what your relationship was true, why did you make such a choice, why began to work for the people, which, as it seemed, were very critical? She was worried, did not break whether this choice is inside you, what happened to your soul? Yes, Mary, those specific people whose trust you betrayed, not throwing stones at you, not demanded «retaliation», was not happy your trouble. Instead, they are sincerely worried for your soul.

And I really want to believe, Mary, that many of them as I am now sincerely sorry for your trouble. Trust me, I know what pain is, unbearable torture in extreme circumstances, agonizing suspense, tears every day, daily fear of death, panic attacks and that terrible feeling that you did everything you could, and more from you nothing depends. I endured this hell because of those people for whom you worked, who you promote, who you make contact and with whom they shared information. I know what the loss of homeland and the loss of friends – loss is not because of a quarrel, not only because of the divergence of views, and due to the fact that some of my friends were killed. Yes, Maria, two of my personal friends-journalists have been killed over the past three years, and I fully admit that will not be able to visit their graves have never been.

I saw in the press that in one of his letters Torshin, you wrote that «the liberals are clearly exaggerating the extent of his misery» in Russia. No, Mary, many people, conversely, do not tell all that they had experienced, especially when talking about prisons and torture in these prisons. In the Crimea or the Donbass that torture did take a terrifying character, and doing them often is the same FSB, ties from which you once were proud of.

But that is why Mary, these people, like no other, able to understand the depth of hell, through which you’re going: every day in captivity, each new determination by the prosecution, each new broken hope that all this is about to end, every day of the torture of waiting. Believe me, no one is able to understand human suffering so deeply and so fully as the man who himself suffered – even though he was always on the other side of the fence. And I want you to know that those people you cheated, forgave you, Masha, and soul you want your suffering is over as soon as possible and make your dreams of a new life, free from all this dirt has finally come true.

I’m really sorry that the sentence was harsher than you could hope for, but even though it is, tends to fly by surprisingly quickly. Soon you will return to Russia (the country to which I and many of my friends who may not be able to return ever). And there, upon return, you may have to wait for the test yet another stark moral choice: to become a media person, another cog in the propaganda, the more that you really have a genuine difficult experience in America that you could share (believe me, I have it too, although not on the same scale).

But I hope that will overcome this temptation and remain true to the desire to start a new and pure life that was born out of you these days, and which you said in court. Even if you think that you have been the victim of unjustified brutality, understand that evil can not win, participating in another evil, besides an even larger scale. This will only aggravate the abyss of complicity, burn the soul to the end, and, most importantly, will not give you the true relief. Even my choice, Masha, who seemed to me to be morally impeccable, and still seems the right thing in that situation, which I did, could not pass unnoticed. I wanted to protect the innocent: victims of the war in a morally unambiguous situation of collision of the victim and the aggressor. But the war is morally cripples and the aggressor and the victim equally, and this eternal law, we, unfortunately, unable to change. However, the participation in the war on the side of the one for whom there is no true truth, cripples the soul is much stronger.

I am in no means trying to preach to you, I just want to share the experience that may be important to you now: the experience of suffering. Suffering is sometimes very sly thing. At some point they may give you catharsis, the update of the soul, of genuine remorse, they can help you see the world as you’ve never seen it before, they can learn to feel and sympathize completely new way. But it also happens that the time passes, the nightmare ends, and replaced recently experienced the purification and wisdom comes pain. This pain seems unbearable, the feeling that it is impossible to live that you will never be able to start a new life, because you won’t be able to forget and forgive the experiences.

Trust me, I’ve been through this. I faced slander and real betrayal – vile, treacherous, perfect people that I trusted and which did very much. I also know how disgusting and cruel can this world. The only difference is that you did what you did, and I had to suffer without guilt. And I also know the destructive force of the pain: the inability to forgive and forget. But trust me, Masha, if you start to build your life under the pressure of this pain, going on about revenge – it is not able to bring relief. One of the most common illusions of the desire for revenge is what will then become easier. It’s a lie. It won’t help. The truth is that this secondary pain is able to evolve, to transform and help you become a really different person: a wise, sensitive and thinner knowing good and evil. I managed not to succumb to this pain and not falling in spite of everything, and I believe you too can do that. Despite all they went through, you stayed strong person.

Mary, we’re both Russian girls from the provinces, both have achieved in life pretty much, both were in a foreign country, were both naive and idealistic, in addition, almost the same age, and because I think we are somewhat similar. I sincerely want to believe that you believed in what you were doing, what your plans were a reflection not only of ambition, but your love for Russia – the way you understood it. I believe that you did not want America evil, you just did what you felt was right. And I want to believe that deep down you’re a good man, and how much you have suffered, you probably just got better. However, the love of country is always unrequited, and the best, where can we focus efforts are the living suffering people. I hope that over time you’ll see it too.

I read about how you came to faith while in prison. I am also Orthodox Christian, and because I think that even being on different sides in this confrontation, we will be able to understand each other. Ever Russian-Ukrainian and undeclared «second Cold war» will end, and the separation begins to take place on another basis: between suffering and not suffering, between those who sincerely believed in what he’s doing, and those who used them between those who found the strength to forgive, and those who have not been able to do it. And maybe there, in this new world, we might someday meet in person.

I really want to believe that, back home, you will be able to save those bits of Holiness that he felt in captivity, and not to get involved in a new vicious circle of lies and complicity in evil. We are the «Russian liberals», we sincerely wish you a peaceful return home, a new life and new joys. Yes, we all will never be the same, but maybe that this is our only chance to be different. We believe that you will never repeat previous mistakes and will not give any flattering persuasion and «tempting offers», nor their own offense. We believe in you, Mary. Don’t betray our trust for the second time!

Sincerely yours,

Ksenia Kirillova and Yulia Guseinova