Media have dubbed Russian citizen Viktor Bout an arms baron. He is now in jail in New York without any hope for an acquittal. His motions have been denied and the court will hand down his sentence on March 12. Bout spoke with RIA Novosti correspondent Larisa Sayenko about his case and shared his views on the situation in the United States and Russia.
- Why did U.S. special services choose you as the target of their sting operation?
- I got in the Americans’ way because I was a notable figure in Africa where I was doing my business. We evacuated casualties, rescued people, delivered medicine, hospital equipment and water purification systems. They told me: “Take the necessary cargo to Rome, Paris, carry the gold there.” I kept my mouth shut, as these were not my secrets. Some people regularly invited me to share information and cooperate, but I refused. I think that’s where it all began – I started getting in their way. My case is political, rather than criminal.
- But did you really want to help fighting with the Americans in Columbia by supplying weapons to FARC, as one would surmise from the court transcripts?
- I have never said, “I will go and kill.” In a talk with so-called FARC representatives, I told them, “You are right.” I have the right to my opinion about the organization. It was the United States that placed them on the list of terrorist organizations.
I was accused of having “intent.” Well, any conversation in Latin America starts with expressing a dislike for the United States. It is even more popular than football.
Yes, I am against the United States, its expansion and its destruction of nature. The United States is the cancer of the Earth. This is my opinion. I have a right to it.
Putting me on trial for my opinion is a medieval inquisition. Only instead of burning me to death on a stake I will be in jail for life.
- What do you think of being called an arms baron or a merchant of death?
- I have never sold weapons, but even if I sold them, it would not be a crime. I had two or three weapons delivery orders from African governments. But if it were not me, Lufthansa or someone else would have delivered them. There is no law to punish carriers. All of the allegations that I supplied weapons from Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine are unfounded rumors. I am not a merchant of death. And the author of the book by that name, Douglas Farah, has never met me.
- How did your name appear in the UN Security Council’s documents?
- Information flows from one level to another. Nobody bothered to investigate it. The UN has turned into a crowd of bureaucrats engaged in resolving their own problems.
- According to the media, you know illegal arms supply schemes from Russia, you acted under the cover of high-ranking people and you were short of a friend to top officials...
- There are no illegal arms supplies from Russia and there cannot be any because nobody but the government is engaged in arms shipments. As for friendship... Fortunately or unfortunately, I have no connections to the upper echelons.
- Do you hope to return to Russia?
- The Foreign Ministry’s position shows that Russia has gained an understanding of everything and requests the application of international law. Of course, I want to be free, but I understand reality and that certain circumstances need to coincide. I understand the enormous spectrum of foreign policy problems that the ministry needs to resolve in addition to my own problems.
- Do you already know what you will say in your final plea before the sentence is read on March 12? Are you going to ask for leniency?
- I think I will be sentenced to life in prison, but I will not cry. I have nothing to reproach myself for. I will not make a final plea. I don’t want to make a show. Who would be watching anyway?
Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and then extradited to the United States. The United States has charged Bout with conspiring to kill Americans and U.S. officials, illegal surface-to-air missile trafficking and supporting terrorism by cooperating with the Colombian FARC guerrilla organization