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The former Russian arms dealer known as the "Merchant of Death" who the US exchanged for Brittney Griner is back in Russia and now learning to use a smartphone

Viktor Bout pictured walking.
Viktor Bout pictured in April, just four months after the US released him from prison in exchange for Britney Griner.Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • The US swapped Viktor Bout, a once notorious Russian arms dealer, for WNBA star Britney Griner, last year.

  • Known as the "Merchant of Death," Bout spent 15 years in a US prison.

  • Bout is now back in Russia, adjusting to modern life, and running for local office.

Last year, in December, the United States agreed to exchange the infamous Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who had been jailed in the United States for 15 years, for American basketball player Brittney Griner. Russian authorities had arrested Griner a year earlier.

Griner, for her part, has since returned to the court, and her family. Bout, on the other hand, returned to Russia and now, almost a year later, is running for local office and adjusting to modern life, according to a profile in the New York Times.

Once known as the "Merchant of Death," Bout has thrown his hat in the ring as a candidate for the regional assembly in Ulyanovsk, an area of southwestern Russia that is home to 1.3 million people and about a 12-hour drive from Moscow. The election is taking place on Sunday.

"When you're absent for 15 years from country, you need to start somewhere," Bout told the Times. "So for me, going into regional office, it's a better way to understand the problems. I need to meet people. I need to learn how they live."

The career pivot isn't the only challenge facing Bout, who was first arrested by police in Thailand in 2008 before his extradition to the United States. He told the Times he's still learning how to use smartphones and exploring modern technology, like electric buses.

Bout said the career pivot was also inspired by the collapse of his business dealings, which first began in 1990 and included massive arms deals across several countries.

Since his release, Bout has been a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. He's a member of the pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party and has made several visits to Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory, the Times reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider