Negotiations between Russia and the United States on the exchange of prisoners have entered a “sensitive” phase. Steve Zissu, a lawyer for Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who was convicted in the United States, told about this on July 27.
“A sensitive moment has come in these negotiations, therefore, out of respect for the process and the families involved in it, I will refrain from further comments for the time being,” the lawyer said in an interview with TASS.
On the same day, CNN reported on the approval by US President Joe Biden of a deal to exchange Russian citizens held in American prisons for American citizens convicted in the Russian Federation. According to the channel, Viktor Bout should be exchanged for basketball player Brittney Griner accused of drug smuggling and Paul Whelan convicted of espionage.
On June 11, Steve Zissou called the exchange of Viktor Bout for American citizens detained in the Russian Federation inevitable.
Then he told reporters about the deterioration of Bout’s health in prison due to an infection. He promised to go to court to provide his client with qualified medical care.
On June 8, Tatyana Moskalkova, Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia, said that Russia is working on the return of Viktor Bout to his homeland.
On May 12, Gazeta.Ru, citing a source in the Public Monitoring Commission (POC) of the Moscow Region, said that Russian citizen Viktor Bout could be exchanged for Brittney Griner.
Viktor Bout has already served half of his 25-year sentence in an American prison on charges of preparing a conspiracy to kill US citizens and material support for terrorism. He was detained in Thailand in 2008 and handed over to the United States. The Russian was accused of intending to sell a batch of weapons to the left-wing radical group “Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia”. His mother this year turned to the presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation with a request to agree on the return of her son to Russia.