The Secrets of Viktor Bout

I said yesterday that details would soon enough begin to trickle through about what exactly Russia has to fear from Viktor Bout’s incarceration in the US.  Indeed, today RFE/RL offers some insights into the Kremlin’s interest in protecting the world’s most notorious arms dealer:

Military analyst Aleksandr Golts, who is deputy editor of the website “Yezhednevny zhurnal,” believes that there are two main theories regarding Moscow’s interest in the Bout affair.

“The first version is that Bout really does know something: his intrigues or his attempts to create intrigues with weaponry were based either on the support of some Russian state structures or of some highly placed people,” he says.

“It is clear that, in this case, those highly placed people are extremely concerned that if Bout is given a life sentence, he will start to talk and will begin saying things that are highly unpleasant for official Moscow.” However, Golts adds, it cannot be excluded that Bout does not have such connections.

“A second theory is also possible,” he says. “Bout is not connected with anyone, but in Moscow they have so little trust in the American judicial system and in the American government that they think that if they give Bout some long sentence, they will be able to force him to say something that would be discrediting to the Russian authorities.

“So that’s why they want to get him out of there as quickly as possible, which — by the way — I don’t think they have any chance of doing.”

Other experts have no doubts that Bout could not have pursued his many years of arms dealing without some important contacts in Russia.

Independent military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer believes that making such shipments would have been impossible without plausible documentation

“I can confirm from my sources in the Russian customs service that weapons need to have certificates for the final recipient that are sufficiently convincing because everything has to go across borders and you can’t fit it into a big suitcase,” he says.

“We are talking about massive shipments and for that you need permit documents. You need the help of officials, although there are various places for that — it isn’t necessary to get [this assistance] in Moscow.”

Yury Vdovin, deputy director of the NGO Citizen’s Watch, which monitors Russia’s security bodies, thinks the Federal Security Service (FSB) is using other structures within the Russian government in a bid to secure Bout’s release to cover up its own involvement.

“[The FSB’s predecessor] the KGB infiltrated all Soviet structures and supported terrorists around the world,” he says, adding that the FSB “now secretly continues” this “fundamental criminal activity.”

“I don’t believe that this department was not involved with [Bout] because he couldn’t have done what he did and shipped such weapons without them knowing about it,” Vdovin claims.

Read the whole article here.