The legendary Merchant of Death, Russian businessman Viktor Bout, will face an American court after he had been extradited from Thailand to the United States.
The US administration put unprecedented pressure on the authorities of Thailand. The Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry showed an unusually harsh reaction to Bout's extradition having described it as an illegal action.
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What do the Americans want and how will Bout's case affect Russia's relations with the USA?
"It's all about politics here, there is nothing more to the story," Maksim Shevchenko, a member of the Public Chamber, told Pravda.Ru. "It is just another fact to prove that the Americans consider all other countries, except for the USA, as the territory of savages, whom they treat savagely violating human rights. They accuse Bout of illegal arms sales in spite of the fact that the USA is the largest arms seller in the world. The Americans sell their arms to most barbarian regimes in the world, but it seems to be ok for them, of course."
Pavel Zolotaryov, deputy director of the Institute for the USA and Canada, shares a different opinion.
"I do not think that this is a purely political case. Which goals do the Americans pursue here? Do they want to obtain an opportunity to put pressure on the Russian administration at some point? They could try to scratch an ear with a leg just as successfully. Washington has many other, more convenient opportunities to do that," he said.
Valery Garbuzov, the chairman of the department for foreign politics of the Institute for the USA and Canada, believes that the scandal with Viktor Bout may damage the US-Russian relations.
"I hope that our relations that have been developing dynamically with the US administration will not suffer. The time, when the scandal occurred, coincided with Chapman and Shcherbakov spy scandals. I believe that Bout's case will complicate the situation for Barack Obama at the Senate. It may even seriously affect the ratification of the START Treaty. It all depends on what Bout is going to tell American investigators. In any case, one may predict that it will play into the hands of Republicans who will not miss another chance to pinch Democrats and Obama. This may complicate the relations with Russia," the expert said.
Leonid Ivashov, the president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems:
"I think that this is a political anti-Russian action, the goal of which is to strengthen the American influence on the Russian political establishment. It is obvious that Bout was involved in arms sales, but he could not cause severe damage to the Americans. He was delivering outdated arms mostly to those groups that were not struggling against US interests. Bout was proceeding from the paying capacity of his customers in his business.
"The pressure, which the US administration put on Thailand, shows that the Americans don't want Bout just as an "associate of terrorists." They look father than that. What is implied in the notion of arms sales? You won't be able to export a single rifle if you don't have the support of state officials. The Americans are aware of that, so they will now use the businessman to put pressure on Russia in the future."
Sergey Markov, State Duma deputy:
"As for Thailand, this state has shown in Viktor Bout's case that it is not an independent country. As for this particular case, I believe that a robber belongs to jail. All illegal arms dealers must be jailed: Russian dealers in Russian jails and American - in American jails. The fact that the USA has jailed a Russian citizen in an American jail is a blatant violation of all laws.
"The Americans have shown that they want to control arms sales. Those who play by their rules will not have any problems. Those who don't - they will be jailed. The Americans live by jungle law - they violate international laws and act in their interests only."
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