Vladimir ‘s top allies in Russia are mocking America over the recent prisoner swap that saw the US release convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for WNBA star , claiming that Russia got the better end of the deal.
Maria Butina, the pro-Putin MP elected to Russia’s Duma after serving a US prison sentence for acting as an unregistered foreign agent, led the charge in taunting the US over Thursday’s exchange.
‘The fact that Russia pushed through the exchange of Bout, whom America fundamentally did not want to give away for many years, right now means that, like in The Godfather, we “made them an offer that cannot be refused,”‘ Butina boasted in Russian on her Telegram channel.
‘This is a position of strength, comrades,’ added Butina, who was deported back to Russia in 2019 after serving an 18-month sentence in the US.
On Thursday, the US and Russia announced that Griner, who was sentenced to nine years of hard prison time on cannabis-related charges, had been exchanged for Bout.
Maria Butina (left), the pro-Putin MP in Russia’s Duma, led the charge in taunting the US for releasing Viktor Bout (right on Thursday) in exchange for WBNA star Brittney Griner
Butina, who was deported back to Russia in 2019 after serving an 18-month sentence in the US, boasted on her Telegram channel about the trade
The controversial swap took place in Abu Dhabi, and Russian TV showed Bout in a private jet on the flight to Russia, getting his blood pressure checked, speaking with his family by phone and saying, ‘I love you very much.’
Bout’s mother, Raisa, thanked President Vladimir Putin and the Foreign Ministry for freeing her son, Tass reported.It added that he would be invited to speak to lawmakers on the Duma’s International Affairs committee.
On Channel One Russia, the state-run news outlet widely watched in Russia, an announcer hailed Bout as a ‘legendary figure’ who had suffered ‘persecution’ and ‘illegal extradition to the United States’.
Online comments from Russian-speakers also tended to celebrate Bout’s release, with some hailing him as a ‘hero’.
‘Finally. He’s been sitting in jail for years. Freedom,’ wrote one commenter on YouTube.
‘Finally the family will be reunited.Congratulations for the return of Viktor. I wrote him a letter in America with words of support. I’m very glad this part of history is over,’ another wrote.