Viktor Bout (Russian arms dealer), was released in prisoner swap with Brittney Griner. He has now signed up for a far-right proKremlin party.
The 55-year old, known as the “Merchant of Death”, joined the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. This party has supported Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine .
Despite expressing token opposition to the ruling United Russia bloc, the party has been supportive of the Kremlin in large part.
Experts suggested that Bout could pursue a career as a politician upon his return to Russia.
After spending 14 years in an American prison for illegal arms trading, he was released in a prisoner exchange on Thursday.
Russia has historically given public positions to those who are desired by the West. It was suggested that he could run for a seat at the Russian Parliament.
Bout said Monday to Russian media that he did not have any immediate plans to take part in “any election”.
Yevgeny Prizhin, a Russian businessman and close ally to Putin, supported his decision to enter politics.
Concord, his catering company, posted a statement in which he stated that Viktor Bout was not a person but a model of firmness.
“Bout will be a good leader in any party or movement.”
Telegram video today shows Bout joining Leonid Slutsky, LDPR leader, on stage to announce party membership.
Slutsky says to the crowd in the footage: “I want Viktor Anatolievich(Bout) to thank for his decision and welcome him into ranks of the most respected political party in Russia today.”
Despite its name, Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), has espoused an ultranationalist, hardline ideology since its inception in 1991.
It is a key demand that Russia retake the countries of the former Soviet Union.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky was the founder of the organization and its long-standing leader. He died in April. His eccentric and outrageous behavior earned him a reputation for being a political showman.
This party is known for recruiting controversial Russian politicians, such as Andrei Lugovoy (a former KGB agent, wanted in Britain to murder ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko).
In 2007, he was elected to the LDPR parliament.
Brittney Griner released in prisoner swap with Russian “Merchant of Death” arms dealer
Brittney Griner returns to the USA after a prisoner swap with Viktor Bout, Russian “Merchant of Death”
Bout, who was a notorious arms dealer for nearly two decades, sold weaponry to rebel groups, rogue states and murderous warlords throughout Africa, Asia and South America.
The Russian state has wanted to bring him home since his capture during a sophisticated US sting. He was then sentenced to 25-years imprisonment.
Bout was released on December 8th by the US in a prisoner exchange for Griner, WNBA star. Griner was detained in February after customs agents found vape canisters containing cannabis oil inside Bout’s luggage at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport.
She was sentenced for nine years.
Bout’s release was seen by the Kremlin as a major PR victory. US President Joe Biden welcomed Ms Griner’s return and said she represented “the best” of America.
He also criticised Russia by stating that Ms Griner was held in “intolerable conditions” and endured a “terrible ordeal”.