Maria Butina and Paul Erickson (both standing) chat with University of South Dakota alumni and faculty at a Farber Fund Reception held July 19, 2017 at the U.S.-Asia Institute in Washington, D.C. This photo is posted on the University of South Dakota Alumni Facebook page.

VERMILLION — Judging from her Facebook page, alleged Russian agent Maria Butina has made appearances  around the world, from cities throughout her homeland, to the Czech Republic, Israel, Taiwan and the United States.

Once she settled in Washington, D.C. to attend America University and begin a relationship with Vermillion native Paul Erickson, she traveled several times with Erickson to South Dakota, she hunted pheasants near Elk Point, visited a camp in the Black Hills for Republican teenagers and made stops in Sioux Falls, Yankton and Vermillion.

Those visits were well documented on Butina’s Facebook account and other forms of social media. She notes that her visit to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion included  her very first speaking engagement before students and advisors in USD’s Arts and Sciences Building.

She writes about her April 16, 2015 experience in a Facebook entry, roughly translated into English by the social media program.

She describes USD students as “not dumber and not smarter than our guys” and was impressed with their “healthy interest” in the issue of gun rights in Russia.

Butina writes:

“Today for the first time in my life, I performed a speech at the American University. It is not possible to say that earlier I did not make English-speaking performances — that would not be true. Repeatedly I gave presentations on the right to weapons in Russia in front of foreign audiences, for example in Taiwan or Israel, but it was still for me the first speech for a non-ancillary foreign audience. In this, it was the main “challenge,” because when you perform for specialists and lovers in the field of weapons, it is quite simple, because they are so perfectly aware of what you’re talking about. Here the situation is different — it is necessary to find simple and understandable examples and analogies that will clearly demonstrate the theme for the conversation and connect it to the reality that your audience lives in.”

She adds that she spoke for a small audience at USD of approximately 30 people made up of “the legal and political faculty of senior courses — became the relevant departments that asked me to speak and tell about the right to weapons in Russia, because local guys, sometimes, may not know where Russia is located and they won’t be read about the rights of weapons and self-defense in our country,” she states. “The University is located in a small town called Vermillion with a total population of only 10 (thousand) people. But this is the specificity of American universities that are evenly distributed across the country.

“For the clarity of understanding, I asked for a map of the world to show Russia, and what is amazing, discovered that the American version of the card is a little deployed - America is there on the left, and the eurasia on the right, the center lies — On our same maps in the center — Eurasia and the rest is on the edges,” she writes. “With amazement on the map also discovered the inscription Siberia (Hornets) and what is quite amazing — on the map is painted by my native Barnaul, just like Novosibirsk and Ekaterinburg that not on all even Russian maps can be seen. Funny that the map is not nova, so there is Crimea still in the composition of Ukraine.”

She briefly mentions a stereotype of American “dumb” students  and how she encountered nothing that strengthens that stereotype while on the USD campus.

“Nothing dumb I didn’t see in the boys. There’s a healthy interest in happening, smart questions, not dumber and not smarter than our guys,” she writes. “Yes, most of them further South Dakota, or the hometown and did not travel, but met one exchange student from Germany, as well as one guy who studied exchange in Saint Petersburg. At the University, by the way, the Russian language is taught, which is very popular there — so a couple of students practiced on me on a bad Russian, which is very nice.”

She noted that during her lecture at USD, she focused on “the features of gun legislation in the Russian Federation compared to the U.S. Listeners have been very interested in how I myself ended up related to the gun movement and my bio (this, by the way, the thing of Americans -—they are significantly more interested in personal stories than public activity), talked also about “my home is my fortress” and about why an armed citizen is a pillar of the state, agreed on the that legal weapons are not involved in crimes.”

At one point during her talk, a discussion developed, she writes, about registration and obtaining permits for weapons.

 “Americans are very concerned about the preservation of personal data, but therefore categorically against any licenses and registrations, counting the common base of the owners of the best soil for the future seizure of weapons,” she writes. “Here the in example brings Hitler and his registration of the Jewish population, the continuation of this story you know.

“I was happy to tell, and they listened with interest about how we promote the right to weapons in Russia in the media (here a special thank you again to the beautiful work of the press service of the movement ‘right to weapons’ and personally executive director Dmitry Kislovu is his hands The Case), as a handouts material, showed an article from GQ magazine — here it is known to all,” Butina states. “Of course, touched on the Russian level of crime and the flow of weapons from hot points in the context of the need for citizens to defend themselves against criminals.

She concluded her talk at USD by citing a Bible verse from the gospel of Luke. It reads, in the King James version of the Bible: “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

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