Voices from Russia

Thursday, 7 June 2012

An Exchange for Bout in the Works?


An exchange may be in the works for Russian citizen Viktor Bout, convicted in an American court, for former FSB Colonel Valery Mikhailov, sentenced in Russia to 18 years in prison for cooperating with the CIA. Today, Moscow is insisting on the return of two Russians serving sentences in US prisons, Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko. Its Mikhailov’s only chance for freedom, for his sentence is for high treason. Exchanges of prisoners between Russia and the USA isn’t uncommon, it’s often of mutual benefit to both governments. Most commonly, the sides exchange spies. The last open example of this was in 2010, when the USA expelled ten “exposed” GRU agents to Russia in return for four Russian citizens serving prison sentences for treason and spying for the United States. Moreover, at the time, the US State Department called the 10/4 exchange “an equivalent swap”, and “a benefit to American national interests”.

Lawyer Vladimir Yurasov said, “Now, it’s in the hands of the two sides. In terms of present theory and practise, an American spy sentenced under the RF Criminal Code must serve their sentence in the usual manner, but they could be exchanged for Bout on the basis of agreements at the highest diplomatic level; the two governments could handle the situation in that way. It’s extralegal; it’s a question of a political nature. If the leaders of both countries decide to do so, it’ll be a completely legitimate exchange”.

Today, Moscow seeks the release of at least two Russians serving sentences in American prisons… Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko. The Americans abducted Viktor Bout in Thailand and an American court sentenced him to 25 years in prison for trying to sell weapons to the Colombian leftist group FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). In addition, a US court sentenced pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to smuggle five tons of cocaine. Both pleaded not guilty, and Russian diplomats are in talks with their American counterparts to bring both Bout and Yaroshenko home.

Not long ago, US Attorney General Eric Holder made it clear that there can be a positive outcome for all of this. However, obviously, it’s not possible yet. It’s not prudent for the Obama administration to bring up any espionage-related theme right before the American election. Apparently, Mikhailov hoped that the CIA didn’t forget his achievements, and that they’d rescue him from a Russian prison. On Tuesday, the Moscow District Military Court sentenced Mikhailov to 18 years in prison for passing top-secret information to the CIA from 2001 to 2007. He passed them classified documents meant for President Putin and other high officials. Mikhailov pleaded guilty; he agreed with the verdict. Now, he has a chance to gain freedom in an exchange. However, would Bout agree to take part in such a course of events?

Law professor Janis Yuksha said, “After all, most people would assume that would mean that Bout was guilty, and that the action of the American court was legitimate. In this case, an exchange of a Russian citizen, who hasn’t, we argue, committed any offenses against the American government and, therefore, in principle, the Americans had no right to try him in the USA, for a former FSB officer who’s simply a traitor… it’s difficult to say that this is the right step”. In the meantime, the Americans suddenly transferred Bout from the Supermax, USP Florence ADMAX, to an ordinary federal prison, USP Marion. Neither Bout himself nor his lawyer nor family received any warning of his place of detention. Moreover, US federal authorities usually transport prisoners only on Tuesdays, but in this case, the movement occurred on Wednesday. Why this was is a mystery; we can only guess at the reason.

7 June 2012

Natalia Kovalenko

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

Not to put a fine face on it, the US abduction of Bout in Thailand was illegal and without warrant. Its proof, yet again, that the USA is the main rogue state in the world. US law does NOT extend over the entire globe. Shit such as this is pushing Russia and China into a tight alliance to protect themselves against American barbarity, violence, and lies… there was a reason for 9/11, and Americans refuse to see that their own smarmy bullying was the cause (their kneejerk support of the most violent elements in Israel did find a response in the 9/11 strikes). The same was true in this case.

I spoke of a possible swap for Bout here and here in late May. The Russians also nicked a guy in Yekaterinburg for working for Langley. Ergo, this smells likes an “even swap”… the Russians get Bout and Yaroshenko in return for the USA getting the two Langley assets. One wonders if the two Russian traitors are going to be guests of Potapov and Paffhausen once they’ve hit the District. It wouldn’t surprise me. Cookie the Bookie’s laying good odds that Potapov’s going to be the go-between in settling these two jabronies in the USA; after all, Potapov’s a “made man” for Langley, and has been for years…



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