NRA-Linked Russia Central Banker Retires 

(Bloomberg) -- Alexander Torshin, whose assistant is closing in on a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors after being charged with acting as a Kremlin agent in Washington, is leaving his position as deputy governor of Russia’s central bank.

Torshin retired, the Russian regulator said in a statement Friday. He turned 65 Tuesday. The announcement came after the U.S. government said this week that prosecutors are optimistic about reaching a deal with Maria Butina, a gun-rights activist currently jailed for failing to register as a Russian agent. Russian officials call her a “political prisoner.”

While the official retirement age at the central bank is 60, employees are allowed to continue working beyond that. Torshin assumed his current post in January 2015, when he was 61. The central bank declined to elaborate on its one-sentence statement Friday. Torshin did not immediately respond to attempts to reach him.

Torshin and Butina worked closely together, according to electronic messages quoted in the U.S. filings in her case. In Twitter messages cited by prosecutors, he encourages Butina, calling her a rising “political star.” She asks for his mentorship in their effort to “advance Moscow’s long-term strategic objectives” in the U.S.

Butina helped organize a Russian delegation led by Torshin to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in early 2017. President Donald Trump attended the event, but a separate meeting with Torshin the Russians had sought didn’t take place.

In April 2018, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Torshin, part of a swath of measures aimed at punishing “Russia’s malign activities,” including election meddling.

A lifetime member of the NRA, Torshin said in a 2016 interview that he first met the future U.S. president in at the organization’s annual meeting in 2015.

Torshin, a former senator from Russia’s ruling party, is suspected by Spanish prosecutors of having links to organized crime. He’s denied those allegations and was never formally charged.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.