According to state news agency RIA, a Russian arms dealer who was released in a prisoner swap for American basketball player Brittney Griner in December has been picked as a candidate for a seat in a Russian regional assembly.
The political journey of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer once known as “the merchant of death,” who was released from a US prison in a prisoner exchange involving basketball star Brittney Griner.
Recent reports indicate that Bout has now been selected as a candidate for a far-right party in a regional legislature in Russia’s Ulyanovsk region.
Bout, who served 10 years of a 25-year sentence in US prisons on arms dealing charges, was released in December as part of the exchange with Griner, an Olympic gold medallist.
The ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) in Russia has nominated Bout for a seat in the legislative assembly, as stated by an LDPR official.
Previously arrested in Thailand in 2008 during a sting operation by US agents, Bout was described by the US.
Department of Justice is one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers, accused of selling weapons to terrorists and enemies of the United States.
Despite vehemently denying the charges, Bout’s association with arms dealing has earned him notoriety.
Russian Arms Dealer’s Political Path and Brittney Griner’s Legal Battle
On the other hand, Griner, who was sentenced in 2022 for possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil (which is illegal in Russia), has faced a different fate.
The judicial process surrounding her case was criticized as a sham by Washington. However, Griner has since returned to her sports career.
Bout’s alignment with the LDPR following his return to Russia is notable, as the party holds far-right, ultra-nationalist views and staunchly supports President Vladimir Putin’s controversial actions, including the invasion of Ukraine.
The LDPR has also been associated with other figures with controversial backgrounds, such as Andrei Lugovoi, wanted in Britain for the murder of former KGB officer and Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko.
As Bout’s political journey unfolds within the LDPR, questions arise about the party’s ideology and its growing influence in regional legislatures.
This development sheds light on the intersection of politics, controversial figures, and Russia’s domestic landscape.