Russian Arms Dealer Swapped in Prisoner Exchange Greeted by Family in Moscow

Convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was greeted by family upon landing at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport late on December 8, after he was exchanged for WNBA star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

Footage released by Zvezda, operated by the Russian defense ministry, shows Bout, carrying flowers, exit an aircraft and hug two women. A presenter in the video says the women are his mother and wife. This was also reported by Interfax.

Bout and Griner were exchanged by US and Russian officials at an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, earlier on Thursday.

Russia’s customs service detained Griner at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February, alleging that she was in possession of vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis. She was sentenced in August to nine years in prison and sent to a penal colony in western Russia after losing her appeal.

On Griner’s release, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, thanked members of the US government who helped secure the swap. She also paid tribute to Paul Whelan, a retired Marine who has been imprisoned in Russia for four years on espionage charges.

Bout, a former Soviet military officer, was serving a 25-year sentence at a penitentiary in Illinois. Credit: Zvezda via Storyful