Viktor Bout, known as Putin’s “Merchant of Death” arms dealer, was freed in a prisoner exchange involving American basketball player Brittney Griner and has launched a run for office in Russia as a member of the far-right.
Bout plans to participate in the forthcoming election for the Russian Liberal Democrat Party (LDPR) later this year.
The LDPR, despite its deceiving moniker, supports President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine and promotes radical far-right and nationalist views.
After receiving a nine year sentence for possessing hash oil, Brittney Griner was released in exchange for Bout’s release in the prisoner swap in December.
Nevertheless, Bout is still detained in the US, where he is currently serving a 25-year jail sentence after being found guilty in 2011 by a federal court of conspiring to assassinate American civilians and government officials.
The renowned gun dealer became well-known throughout the world after being apprehended by American authorities in Thailand in 2008 during a sting operation.
Bout was one of the most active arms dealers in the world at the time, according to the US Department of Justice.
Though he vehemently denies any connection in such actions, the infamous Russian, known as the “Merchant of Death”, has long been charged with supplying weapons to terrorists and American adversaries.
The Liberal Democrat Party (LDPR) has a history of accepting people like Andrei Lugovoi, who is sought in Britain for the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer and Putin sceptic.
After being returned to the United States as part of the prisoner swap, Brittney Griner has since started playing basketball again.
Griner expressed regret in court before being found guilty, apologising and calling her conduct an “honest mistake”.
Putin’s Protective Service dispatched to check for explosives underwater at the bridge
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She said: “I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,
“I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.
“I made an honest mistake, and I hope in your ruling it does not end my life”.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin will participate this week in his first multilateral summit since an armed rebellion rattled Russia, as part of a rare international grouping in which his country still enjoys support.
Leaders will convene virtually on Tuesday (July 4) for a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security grouping founded by Russia and China to counter Western alliances from East Asia to the Indian Ocean.
This year’s event is hosted by India, which became a member in 2017.
It’s the latest avenue for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to showcase the country’s growing global clout.
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