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Moscow offered to swap Viktor Bout for up to 15 US citizens imprisoned in Russia — wife

According to Bout's spouse, the US government refused the offer, stating that those citizens "are of little interest" to them

NEW YORK, September 10. /TASS/. Russian officials have offered the US to exchange Viktor Bout, a Russian national currently serving a prison term at a US correctional facility for up to 15 US residents serving sentences in Russia, his wife Alla Bout said during a press conference held at the Russian Consulate General building in New York.

"They offered 14 or 15 people to be swapped," she said. "The Russian government has made attempts to conduct an exchange. They offered 14 or 15 people," Alla Bout noted. According to her, the US government refused the offer, stating that those citizens "are of little interest" to them. She added that the US stresses that Viktor Bout "will serve his sentence as a warning to others."

"What 'a warning to others' means is clear: arrests [of Russian citizens by Americans] continue, speculation continues — if you don’t make a deal with the prosecution, you’ll get 25 years, like Bout," the wife stated. "This does work, and this can be used to their advantage."

Alla Bout and her daughter arrived in the US on September 8 to visit Viktor Bout at the Marion correctional facility in Illinois. The first visits will take place on September 18 and 19. They purchased return tickets for October 28. "Our presence here will depend not only on how the meetings with Viktor go, but on our financial means," the wife said.

Viktor Bout was apprehended in the Thai capital of Bangkok in 2008 on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by a local court at the request of the US. He was charged with conspiracy to deliver weapons to a group calling itself the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a fine of $15 mln.