A portrait of Maria Butina, as told through the accused Russian agent's social media profiles

NPR reporters poked around in Maria Butina's social media world, looking at the accused Russian agent's thousands of social media friends and reaching out to over 200 individuals. The resulting investigative report paints a portrait of Butina's life, from Siberia, to the tight-knit Moscow pro-guns shooting community, to D.C, Las Vegas, Washington state, and South Dakota.

Maria Butina, the Russian woman accused of working as an unregistered foreign agent, encouraged pro-gun demonstrations in the U.S. as early as 2014, according to messages provided to NPR.

Butina's work has been linked to Russia's attack on the 2016 election, but people who know her say she began trying to make her mark inside America years before.

NPR examined thousands of people who make up Butina's Facebook network, and reached out to a sample of more than two hundred individuals.

Her connections included National Rifle Association officials, gun lobbyists, a Justice Department staffer, a congressional aide, the top organizer of the National Prayer Breakfast and an executive with the Outdoor Channel. She was even friends with the top senior enlisted leader at the Navy's West Coast center for handling nuclear weapons.

Her collection of Facebook friends told the story of a woman who has been working for years to change minds on gun rights first in her home country and then in the U.S.

Maria Butina is in jail today, waiting for her trial on charges of conspiracy and serving as a foreign agent. Prosecutors argued she poses too great a flight risk, and a federal judge agreed.

Russian agents were observed outside the courtroom by journalists, presumably ready to whisk her off.

"Neither the Justice Department nor Butina's lawyer could comment for this story because of a gag order imposed by a federal judge."

Go read the entire piece, or listen to it, it's full of fascinating first-person details.

Some tweets from Tim Mak below. Follow him on Twitter, he is awesome.