Just returned to Russia after more than ten years of imprisonment in the United States, thanks to an exchange of prisoners, Viktor Bout answers, for RT in Russian, questions from Maria Boutina, deputy who was herself imprisoned in the USA.
This December 10, Viktor Bout grants an exclusive interview to RT in Russian, when he is back in Moscow after more than ten years behind bars in the United States. A few days after the famous prisoner exchange that led to his release, he answers questions from Maria Boutina, a Russian MP who fights for the defense of Russians imprisoned abroad – and who herself spent 18 months in prison in the USA.
Viktor Bout, a former Soviet Air Force translator and radio operator, was arrested in Thailand in 2008. Prosecutions say he agreed to sell an arsenal of guns and missiles to US secret agents posing as for guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who said they wanted to use these weapons to shoot down American helicopters helping the Colombian army. He was extradited in 2010 from Thailand on a specially chartered jet from the United States. Found guilty in November 2011 of arms trafficking by the American courts, he was sentenced in April 2012 in New York to 25 years in prison.
He was eventually freed in an exchange between Moscow and Washington for American basketball player Brittney Griner (who was incarcerated in Russia for drug trafficking).
Maria Boutina, another victim of US “arbitrariness”?
Russian citizen, Maria Boutina had experienced a similar misadventure, since she had been arrested in 2018 in the United States, where she campaigned for the right to bear arms. The investigators accused him in particular of not having registered as a foreign agent with the American Department of Justice, as required by a law dating from 1938, the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). This law was then aimed at Nazi propaganda and was reactivated as part of the anti-Russian campaign launched after Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016.
Maria Boutina served her sentence after pleading guilty – giving her a much shorter sentence than if she had pleaded not guilty. The Butina case caused an outcry in Russia and Moscow called the accusations against Butina “unfounded”. Vladimir Putin strongly criticized Maria Boutina’s sentencing, saying she had committed no crime and that Washington was simply trying to “save face”. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, for her part described Butina as “a victim of real arbitrariness” and a “hostage of the American authorities”.
Since 2021, Maria Boutina, also a deputy of the State Duma, has been the head of the Svoih ne brosaem foundation. (“We do not abandon ours”, in French), which fights to defend the right of Russians imprisoned abroad, as well as for their return. His organization also helps, more generally, Russian citizens in difficulty abroad.
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