Russian citizen Viktor Bout, who is being held in an American prison, can return home as part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States. This was announced on Wednesday, September 14, by Bout’s lawyer Steve Zissu.
In a conversation with TASS, the lawyer confirmed that his client could be included in the Russian-American deal if the parties come to an agreement on this issue.
Zissou also noted that the exchange of prisoners can be carried out only after the completion of the midterm elections to the US Congress, that is, at least in a few months.
On the eve it became known that the former diplomat and ex-U.S. Minister Bill Richardson this week held a series of meetings in Moscow on the exchange of convicted Americans.
As noted in the State Department, these events were not coordinated with the American embassy. According to the representative of the department, negotiations between Moscow and Washington on the above issue are being conducted through a specially created channel, and not through private individuals.
On August 14, the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Maria Zakharova, announced Russia’s readiness for a professional conversation and concrete actions on the exchange of prisoners with the United States.
As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on August 5, the Russian Federation is ready to discuss the exchange of prisoners with the United States, but within the framework of the channel that was previously agreed upon by Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, White House National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said on Aug. 2 that US officials were urging Russia to accept their “serious” prisoner swap proposal. Then Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed Moscow’s commitment to refusing to publicly discuss the exchange of prisoners with the United States.
The approval by President Biden of a deal to exchange Russian citizens held in American prisons for American citizens convicted in the Russian Federation became known on July 27. CNN noted that businessman Viktor Bout should be exchanged for basketball player Brittney Griner accused of drug smuggling and Paul Whelan convicted of espionage.