“Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout arrives in Russia as part of US-Russia prisoner swap

The “Merchant of Death,” or Viktor Bout, has arrived in Russia after being swapped with prisoner Brittney Griner from the US. The notorious arms dealer was exchanged in Abu Dhabi with American basketball star Brittney Griner. Despite his reputation, Bout received a hero’s welcome upon arriving in Moscow. He spoke to his family when his plane made a refuelling stop in Russia, allaying his mother’s fears.

“Don’t worry, everything is OK, I love you very much.”

According to The Straits Times, a state television broadcast footage of the prisoner boarding a plane with a smile on his thin face. A nurse was shown taking his temperature and blood pressure. Bout was accused of arming rebels in some of the world’s most violent conflicts. He was then arrested in a US sting operation in Thailand back in 2008. The now 55-year-old was extradited to the US and sentenced back in 2012 to 25 years in prison.

Bout’s mother, Raisa, has thanked President Vladimir Putin for her son’s release.

“I am so grateful. A low maternal bow to the Russian foreign ministry with Lavrov Sergei Viktorovich at its helm.”

She then expressed gratitude to “kind people” in the US, and thanked them for having “faith,” while noting that not all Americans are evil.

“You cannot say that all of them are evil.”

As Bout is apparently an artist, his mother noted that her son plans to open an exhibition of his paintings in Saint Petersburg.

Such a prisoner exchange comes as the situation between the US and Russia becomes increasingly unstable, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked worldwide outrage.

According to The Straits Times, Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tatiana Moskalkova spoke of Bout as being a “wonderful man who has become a victim of American insinuations.” Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said the country is receiving messages of support from “people in Russia and abroad.”

“Incredible! They are thanking the country.”

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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