But Preston said he concluded that the elections were free and fair.
By contrast, Preston said he and Torshin saw violations of U. law — pro-Obama signs posted too close to a polling place — when Torshin traveled to Nashville to observe voting in the 2012 presidential election.
Butina posted social-media photos showing how she and Torshin gained access to NRA officials and the U. Scott Walker (R), then a leading White House contender, at the NRA annual convention.
Torshin told Bloomberg last year that he had a friendly exchange with Trump at the 2015 convention and sat with his son Donald Jr. Walker’s spokesman said the encounter was brief, as speakers mingled with attendees before their remarks. In July, she showed up in Las Vegas at Freedom Fest, a meeting of libertarians where Trump and Sen.
But the apparent increase in contacts in recent years, as well as the participation of officials from the Russian government and the influential Russian Orthodox church, leads some analysts to conclude that the Russian government probably promoted the efforts in an attempt to expand Putin’s power. Preston said that in 2011 he introduced David Keene, then the NRA’s president, to a Russian senator, Alexander Torshin, a member of Putin’s party who later became a top official at the Russian central bank.
“Is it possible that these are just well-meaning people who are reaching out to Americans with shared interests? Hall, who retired from the CIA in 2015 after managing Russia operations for 30 years. Keene had been a stalwart on the right, a past chairman of the American Conservative Union who was the NRA’s president from 2011 to 2013.
Growing up in the 1980s, Brian Brown was taught to think of the communist Soviet Union as a dark and evil place.
He said he did not think Putin would tolerate a legitimate effort to advocate for an armed citizenry, and asserted that the movement is probably “controlled by the security services” to woo the American right.Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, has visited Moscow four times in four years, including a 2013 trip during which he testified before the Duma as Russia adopted a series of anti-gay laws.“What I realized was that there was a great change happening in the former Soviet Union,” he said.“The so-called conflict between our two nations is a tragedy because we’re very similar people, in a lot of our values, our interests and that sort of thing.” Preston, an expert on Russian law whose office features a white porcelain bust of Putin, said he had told Tennessee friends for years not to believe television reports about the Russian leader having journalists or dissidents killed.Preston was an international observer of the 2011 legislative elections in Russia, which sparked mass street protests in Moscow charging electoral irregularities.