‘Merchant of Death’ turns to politics

Viktor Bout (right), a Russian businessman formerly incarcerated in the United States for trading arms and released in a prisoner exchange for Brittney Griner, at the headquarters of the far-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia in Moscow. Bout was returned to Russia in December in a prisoner swap for the American basketball star Brittney Griner; now, he’s running for office in the coming Russian regional elections. — ©2023 The New York Times Company

AS an arms trafficker, he operated in some of the world’s most dangerous places, becoming one of the world’s most wanted men and earning the nickname “Merchant of Death”, not to speak of a 25-year prison sentence in the United States. But now, nine months after returning to Russia in a prisoner exchange, Viktor Bout is reinventing himself – as a local politician.

Bout, 56, is a candidate for the regional assembly in Ulyanovsk, a territory of 1.3 million people about 750km east of Moscow that was Vladimir Lenin’s birthplace.

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