Victor Bout

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"“Terrorist”, criminal"
Person.png Victor Bout   Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Arms dealer, soldier, translator, businessman, spook?, polyglot)
Victor Bout in Bangkok jail
BornViktor Anatolyevich Bout
Dushanbe, Tajik SSR, Soviet Union
Criminal convictions
• Conspiring to kill
• acquiring and export missiles
• providing material to a terrorist organization
Interest ofCIA
Russian accused of arms smuggling by the US, was jailed with help from a turned associate, allegedly, on orders of the CIA.

Victor Bout is an ex-Russian Army translator, turned businessman who was accused of arms smuggling by the US and has been arrested in a sting operation. Nicknamed The Merchant of Death[1][2] by western corporate media, Bout gained recognition during the height of the War on Terror era of the 2000s for his alleged wide list of high-profile clients and sinister Arms smuggling. Although the US and western CCM accused him of working for the KGB and GRU, Bout and his associates accused the CIA of ordering his arrest to remove him as competition for off-the-book CIA arms trafficking activities.


The life of Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer jailed in the United States and linked to a possible swap for two U.S. citizens detained by Moscow, sometimes reads like a far-fetched spy thriller - Reuters

Bout grew up in a middle-class family in Tajikistan. Bout was drafted to do the mandatory military service as a translator serving in the Soviet Union and abroad, and graduated from the Soviet Military Institute of Foreign Languages. Training there allowed Bout to become a polyglot and master six languages: Russian, Portuguese, English, French, Arabic, and Persian. Bout was reported to be fluent in Esperanto as well. Retiring as Lieutenant colonel, he started an airline, first as a personal hobby, later as a business.[3] Corporate media accused Bout of lying about his past, as he is rumored to have been recruited as GRU agent around 1991, became an officer in the Soviet Air Forces, and graduated from a Soviet military intelligence training program, or as operative of the KGB.[4][5] Bout his father-in-law was accused by Swiss media to be a high-ranking KGB agent, who later became Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Sechin.[6]


In the Airstan incident, Bout was a negotiator between the Taliban and the Russian government. Something not normal for an independent freight operator.[7]

Arms Trafficking

Bout's companies shipped all kinds of stuff to the French government, the United Nations, and the United States, including shipped flowers, frozen chicken, UN peacekeepers, French soldiers, and African heads of state in the early 1990s.[8] Around this time, Bout was called the “Sanctions Buster” due to allegations of smuggling weapons to Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, violating UN sanctions, even getting called out in a campaign by Amnesty International.[9] In 1995, Bout was named competition by the CIA, as a personal contact of Afghan guerilla commander Ahmad Shah Massoud who was murdered with help of the Pakistani ISI, an alleged tight ally of the CIA. After pressure by Belgium, Interpol issued a red notice on Bout in 2002. Bout had already won two cases on two continents for all kinds of things from money laundering to identity fraud. Bout has been alleged to develop a massive weapon smuggling operation, including but not limited to, supplying the Taliban and Al-Qaeda after 9-11, Bosnia in the Kosovo War, Liberian leader Charles Taylor, “Kenyan Terrorists”, Hezbollah and Libyan war leaders during the Arab Spring.[10] Bout's U.S. assets were frozen in July 2004 under Executive Order 13348, for his Liberian connections.[11]

According to an article on the website of the Institute for Security Studies,[12] he operated the following airlines: Air Cess, Air Pass, Southern Cross Airline, Flying Dolphin, Southern Gateway Corporation and Norse Air Charter.


In 2008, Bout was lured to Bangkok by his business partner-turned DEA collaborator Andrew Smulian and arrested during a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sting operation. [13] In August 2009, the Bangkok Criminal Court ruled in his favour, denying the United States' request for extradition. In 2010, a higher court in Thailand ruled that Bout could, in fact, be extradited to the United States.[14] Bout was eventually extradited to the US where, on 5 April in 2012, he was jailed for 25 years for allegedly attempting to sell air defense missiles and other weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Russian government pressed the Thai and US Government to not transfer Bout to the US and ran news pieces in Russian and foreign media, indicating deep politics behind the scenes.[15]. Bout was accused of aiding the KGB in the Thai court documents, having close contacts with Vladimir Putin's associates.[16][17]


Bout denied all charges, insisting that he only ran an air transportation company. He further claimed that he was unlawfully prosecuted merely because he had refused “to cooperate with the US secret services” and the allegations against him were brought about due to the “unfair competition from the Western companies, controlled by the CIA.” [18] His lawyers also argued that the government’s star witness was British-born businessman Andrew Smulian who became a DEA informant and got a five-year sentence in the same case. Viktoria Yaroshenko stated that her husband, Konstantin, was offered permanent residency for the family in the US if he would testify against Viktor Bout, but he refused to do so.[19] Bout’s 2017 appeal for a retrial was denied. [20]


Ruud Leeuw collected all documents about the case[21] with a collection of links regarding the case[22], with Daniele Stulin collecting Russian sources as well.[23]

More detailed research into his wife, daughter and brother that ran a intertwining network of shady fashion and not-touched aviation businesses in Bulgaria and the UAE has so far not been published in corporate media.[24][25]


Video from Russian state media shows the moment released prisoners, US basketball star Brittney Griner and arms dealer Viktor Bout, momentarily cross paths on the tarmac of an airport in the UAE - The Guardian

In December 2022, Bout was traded in a bond-like swap for drug smuggler and WNBA player Brittney Griner.[26]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Dimitri Khalezov Interviewinterview14 October 2010Daniel Estulin
Dimitri Khalezov
Daniel Estulin probes the startling claims of Dimitri Khalezov - an ex-Soviet army nuclear weapons specialist - about the events of 9-11 and the then pending extradition of his colleague Victor Bout from Thailand to the USA on arms trafficking charges
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  13. Document:Dimitri_Khalezov_Interview
  15. In 2010, a higher court in Thailand ruled that Bout could, in fact, be extradited to the United States
  21. Article]
  23. Old website]