The freed businessman became a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR)
Russian businessman Viktor Bout has officially become a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), three days after being traded for American basketball player Brittney Griner. He was personally given his membership card by the party leader during the LDPR’s 33rd anniversary on Monday.
“I am sure that Viktor Bout, a willful and courageous person, will take a worthy place in [the party]. Welcome to our ranks.” said LDPR leader Leonid Slutsky. He previously said that the businessman would also be invited to a meeting of the international affairs committee of the Duma (lower house of parliament) and the LDPR faction.
The LDPR is a far-right opposition party and is currently the fourth in the Russian Duma. It was founded by the late incendiary politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who died earlier this year. The party focuses on conservatism and patriotism and opposes modern neoliberal capitalism as well as Soviet-style communism.
Bout told reporters that his decision to join the party was motivated by the fact that he sympathizes with the LDPR and sees it as a powerful party close to the people. However, he said he has no plans to stand for election at this time.
Last week, Moscow and Washington conducted a high-profile prisoner swap, swapping Bout for jailed WNBA star Brittney Griner. The athlete had previously been sentenced to a penal colony in Russia for drug trafficking, while Bout had spent more than 14 years behind bars, including 12 years in US prisons, as part of a 25-year sentence for arms trafficking. The businessman has always denied the charges against him. After arriving in Russia, he told RT he got caught up in the cogs of geopolitics.
Both Griner and Bout were pardoned by their respective nations prior to the trade, meaning they won’t need to continue serving their sentences at home.
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