A NETWORK of glamorous Russian spies working inside the US has been exposed as it’s claimed there are “ties between Elena Branson and Maria Butina”.
Elena Branson, 61, who holds dual citizenship of the US and Russia, was charged on March 8 with acting as an agent of a foreign government without notifying US authorities, conspiring to commit visa fraud, making false statements to the FBI and failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Elena Branson was charged on March 8Credit: Facebook/Russian Center New York
Butina was convicted in 2018 of acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia within the USCredit: pixel8000
Anna Chapman sent a message of support to Butina in 2018Credit: Instagram
She remains at large.
It’s claimed by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York that Branson corresponded with high-ranking Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, to open a Russian “propaganda center” in New York City, for which she “received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from the Russian government” without registering her role as a foreign agent with US officials, the government’s complaint says.
Prosecutors also allege that Branson sought to obtain fraudulent visas for Russian officials and their associates to enter the US.
Branson, aka Elena Chernykh, was born in what was the Soviet Union in 1961 and emigrated to the US in 1991, gaining US citizenship eight years later, according to the complaint.
Branson has now been linked to Maria Butina, who was convicted of serving as an unregistered foreign agent in the US before and after the 2016 presidential election.
She infiltrated a number of right-wing groups and the National Rifle Association.
Branson gave an interview to Russian television last year which was conducted by Butina.
In the interview, Branson claimed she left the US because she thought the “probability was very high” that she would be arrested if she had stayed.
She said 30 FBI agents arrived at her door “all dressed in uniform, all with pistols, in bulletproof vests” in September 2020.
“They showed a search warrant and … asked me to go out and searched the apartment for several hours,” she said.
In the search, officials seized 34 electronics, including 11 cell phones, from Branson’s home and the Russian Center of New York’s Manhattan office, the complaint states.
Branson also claimed in the interview she called Butina immediately after the raid and the convicted spy helped her find an attorney.
The two women then met up in Moscow after Branson fled the US, it’s claimed.
In the 2021 interview, Branson also denied the accusations of spying.
“These are the charges: agent of a foreign government, conspiracy,” she said. “I don’t know what a foreign agent is, but I did not engage in any espionage work.”
Chapman, then 36, posted a picture of herself with the simple but supportive message: “Hold on Masha!”
The women – both redheads – have been compared for using their glamour to infiltrate high places in the West.
Seductive pictures of the ex spy sunning herself in Phuket, Thailand, emerged in the hours since Sergei Skripal was allegedly poisoned in a Salisbury shopping centre.
Chapman has been dubbed as ‘Russia’s most glamorous secret agent’Credit: Instagram
Alleged spy Elena Branson launched the Russia Center New York in Manhattan in 2012Credit: Facebook/Russian Center New York
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