The former arms dealer, who the U.S. traded in exchange for WNBA star Brittney Griner, is running for office in Russia as a member of a far right political party.
Viktor Bout, 56, has joined Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and is now running to be elected to the regional legislature. The LDP currently holds 23 of the 450 seats in Russia’s legislature. The party is to the right of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s dominant United Russia Party.
The arms dealer, once known as the “merchant of death,” had been serving a sentence in the U.S. after his 2008 arrest in Thailand. He was freed in December 2022 as part of a prisoner swap for Griner, who had been sentenced to nine years in prison for possession of vape cartridges containing cannabinoids.
Bout served just 10 years of his 25-year sentence in the U.S.
WNBA SAYS BRITTNEY GRINER SUBJECT OF ‘INAPPROPRIATE’ INCIDENT INVOLVING SOCILA MEDIA ‘PROVOCATEUR’
Griner last made headlines last month when she was harassed by a YouTuber at the airport in Dallas/Fort Worth.
Griner was the subject of harassment on June 10 at the airport when YouTuber Alex Stein approached her and asked several questions, including whether she had sex with Vladimir Putin to get out of prison in Russia.
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The man was pushed away by her team’s security, and one of Griner’s teammates is heard calling the YouTuber “weird.”
Griner aired out her opinion on the matter when the Phoenix Mercury held a video call introducing interim head coach Nikki Blue.
Griner argued that the WNBA should provide more funding to allow teams to travel on private chartered planes rather than normal airlines. She said the harassment incident was “rock bottom” for the WNBA.
Reuters contributed to this report.