|President Dmitry Medvedev with Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.|
A Thai court recently decided that arms dealer Viktor Bout should be extradited to the United States to face charges of aiding terrorists. Bout's incarceration in Bangkok followed a successful US sting operation. According to the Washington Post, Viktor Bout is likely to appeal the Thai court's extradition order to HM the King.
Having surveyed various Russian language media sources, JOTMAN.COM contributor Sanjuro updates us on how Moscow seems to be taking this development:
Several Russian online news outlets (and a prominent journalist Yulia Latynina, and the lawyer Robert Amsterdam) aired that back in the 1980s, while in Africa (Mozambique, or Angola) Viktor Bout knew Igor Sechin who apparently was also involved in the arms trade. Sechin is currently one of the Kremlin's most powerful shadow figures and Putin's right arm (or brain). Interestingly, these Russian sources indicated Stratfor as their original source of the Bout-Sechin connection.Concerning the Stratfor report, the Washington Times indicates:
"According to a report by Stratfor, an American analytic outfit, Bout served with Igor Sechin in Mozambique in the 1980s. Even more interesting is Sechin’s post-African career: According to the same report, he was "the USSR’s point man for weapons smuggling to much of Latin America and the Middle East."Igor Sechin is reported to have been instrumental in securing Russian arms sales to Venezuela. Viktor Bout, of course, was arrested on allegations of having attempted to sell weapons to Columbia's FARC.
|Viktor Bout prior to incarceration.|
According to Stratfor, Surkov, chief of the rival clan to that led by Sechin, has found liberal reformers in government such as Medvedev (called the civiliki) instrumental in his rivalry with Sechin: "The civiliki's plan to fix the Russian economy is based partially on purging forces that have placed personal interests above economic soundness. In this, they are mostly targeting members of Sechin's clan -- the siloviki, or "strong men," who are former FSB agents put in positions of financial or business leadership." Conceivably, the successful American sting operation in Bangkok against Viktor Bout was the result of a tip from the civiliki. Whether or not that's what happened, in so far as Bout has a powerful friend in the Kremlin, he probably has enemies there too.