Douglas Farah reckons the Russians are trying to press the US State Department to press for Viktor Bout's release, or rather his extradition to Russia, which would amount to the same thing. It's an interesting suggestion, although usual caveats apply to a story sourced to Bill "WMD to Syria!!" Gertz. I can imagine them pitching it as a sort of grown-ups' conspiracy, driven by the prospect of sensational revelations.
Just how sensational might be judged by this fine piece of work by the South African Mail & Guardian on the Khalid Rashid case, from back in 2006 (I blogged). Meanwhile, everyone's worried about the fact Bout was offering portable SAMs for sale. I'm not at all surprised that he could source them; hell, he had in the past sold complete attack helicopters. Further, the weapons used in an attempt to bring down an Israeli Boeing 757-300 in Kenya originated in Bulgaria via Somalia, at a period when Irbis Air Co was sending off several flights a day from the UAE to northern Somalia and to ports on the Yemeni coast.
The Economist has a good story on the whole affair; they take the line that Russia has decided to be more helpful on the arms trade, pointing to the arrest of Monzer al-Kassar and the extradition of Yar Klein. That can await early confirmation, as far as I'm concerned. The Economist also points out that it's worrying that he apparently thought he could still use Bulgaria and Romania as he did in the late 90s, now they've joined the EU; some interesting reports are coming out of Romania, for example here. And if anyone could translate this one I'd be very much obliged.
In other news, Bout's brother Sergei, founder of CET Aviation in Malabo back in the 90s, appeared on Russian radio protesting Viktor's innocence and asking "How could the American authorities behave in such an unprincipled way?". He must be the last man on earth who couldn't answer that one.
Meanwhile, z-list wingnut barkie and professional fuckwit Gateway Pundit tries to sneak in on the glory as part of a smear. Glad I'm not you. (In fact, he has given me the germ of an interesting idea. More soon.)