In case you missed it, a new report by Talking Points Memo finds that “[a] Russian pro-gun group with ties to the National Rifle Association boasted an ‘honorary members’ list that’s a who’s-who of far-right and nationalist Russian political figures.” The members list includes longtime Vladimir Putin allies such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who has “blamed Jews for starting the Second World War and provoking the Holocaust,” threatened violence against former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and threatened nuclear war against the United States.
The Russian group, the Right to Bear Arms, was founded by Maria Butina with help from Putin ally and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin. In January, McClatchy reported that Torshin is central to an FBI investigation into “whether Russian money went to [the] NRA to help Trump” get elected. Five days after McClatchy published its story, an outside lawyer for the NRA told McClatchy that the NRA has “not been contacted by the FBI about anything related to Russia.”
The TPM report comes after Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent letters to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the NRA’s Treasurer requesting documents about possible financial ties between Russia and the NRA.
The report raises new questions about why the NRA has boosted the Russian gun group, and why it sent an NRA delegation to meet with the organization in Moscow in December 2015. The NRA did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
- “The group, The Right To Bear Arms, is run by Alexander Torshin, the Russian central bank official and Putin ally at the center of an FBI investigation into whether the NRA received illegal Russian money to boost Donald Trump in 2016.”
- “The honorary members list offers additional evidence that the Right To Bear Arms enjoys support from powerful far-right figures in Putin’s Russia. And it raises questions about the NRA’s relationship with the group: The Right To Bear Arms hosted top NRA officials for a 2015 meeting in Moscow and has forged other close contacts with the NRA. One person on the honorary members list told TPM he received his membership at a 2015 NRA meeting.”
- “One name on the list, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, is a longtime ally of Putin, who he has called ‘the tsar.’ For decades, Zhirinovsky has been a leader of Russia’s far right. He has blamed Jews for starting the Second World War and provoking the Holocaust, and he played a key role in helping the intelligence officer suspected of poisoning defector Alexandr Litvinenko get elected to Russia’s parliament. A 2002 video shows a drunken Zhirinovsky threatening Condoleezza Rice, then the U.S. National Security Adviser, with gang rape. In October 2016, Zhirinovsky threatened ‘Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere’ if Americans voted for Hillary Clinton.’”