‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout sits for his first interview after reaching Russian soil

‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout sits for his first interview after reaching Russian soil

Published on December 10, 2022 23:38 PM by Anna P

Just hours after landing in Moscow, notorious arms trader Viktor Bout had his first interview with a Russian state news channel.

Viktor Bout's first interview after the release

(Image Credits: freebeacon)

During his interview he briefed on his specific value to the Kremlin, as he claims that he was not traded for Brittney Griner, adding, "We just don't leave our people behind."

In an interview with former Russian spy-turned-RT News journalist Maria Butina, Bout attempted to minimize the impact of the high-profile prisoner swap, which saw the WNBA star return to the US on Thursday after serving 10 months in a Russian jail for a narcotics conviction.

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President Joe Biden criticized

The prisoner swap has drawn condemnation from opponents in the US and abroad who claim that President Biden overpaid to release the basketball player.

Reason for Bout’s prison sentence

Bout, who was previously known as the "Merchant of Death" and the "World's Most Prolific Arms Dealer," was apprehended in 2008 in Thailand and found guilty in 2011.

He was found guilty of plotting to kill Americans by supplying weapons worth tens of millions of dollars to the FARC narco-terror group headquartered in Colombia for which he received a 25-year federal prison term.

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Bout’s connection with Putin’s right hand

Bout's alleged connections to Russian military intelligence and Igor Sechin, a billionaire widely regarded as President Vladimir Putin's right-hand man, apparently led to the Kremlin's eagerness to have Bout returned.

Bout, who has presented himself as a respectable businessman, has emphasized that his situation is normal and has denied any involvement with Russia's hidden power structures.

There were "possibly hundreds and thousands and thousands" of incidents similar to Bout's, and Bout explained to Butina that he was only caught up in geopolitical machinery.

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Bout’s experience in American Prison

The 56-year-old Bout gave a brief account of his time spent in a US jail. He said that because of the facility's location in what he dubbed America's "red belt," he never experienced prejudice because of his Russian heritage. In Marion, Illinois, Bout had been detained in a medium-security prison.

Bout said, “Mostly my fellow inmates were sympathetic towards Russia, or at least if they knew nothing about it, they would ask me questions.”

President Biden's detractors criticized the prisoner swap, which led to the release of the renowned international criminal, in part because it failed to secure the release of Paul Whelan, an ex-Marine who has been held captive in a Russian jail for almost four years.

Prison swap deal between America and Russia

The US attempted to obtain Whelan's release as part of the Bout agreement, according to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, but the Russians would only agree to a one-for-one swap.

When asked to comment on the exchange controversy, Bout adopted a diplomatic stance, stating that he did not think it was a reflection of weakness on the side of the Biden administration.

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