Victor Bout: subject in BBC documentary

In November 2008 the BBC broadcasted a documentary about Victor Bout in the 'ThisWorld' -series.
Below are a few impressions of this documentary.
Futher below this page there is an update of a later film / documentary on Victor Bout, claimed to be more objective on the person.


Victor Bout
For a long time no better photo existed of Victor Bout other than this one.


Johan Peleman
Johan Peleman stumbled on Victor Bout and his report triggered interest by the United Nations and countries concerned with the illegal arms trade & sanctions busting in Africa.


The Sting: step 1
The documentary showed how Victor Bout's aircraft managed to fly illegal arms, circumventing watchful eyes and earning the title "no.1 sanction buster"
The presentor
The presenter of this documentory "The man Who Armed The World", broadcasted 17Nov08 BBC 2


Tell them...


The scene and file
The dossier Victor Bout, alias Victor Butt, alias...




Theatre of operations
VB had his aircraft operate on the African continent, but also from countries in eastern Europe, former Soviet States and the Middle East.


The US lost quite a bit of face when found that VB had his aircraft operate for them in Iraq.


Antonov aircraft were used
Antonov An-8 & -12 and Ilyushin IL-18 aircraft were the main type of aircraft VB operated for a long time


"In the architecture of war Viktor Bout was kind of like the glue", says Gayle Smith, who was Senior Director for African Affairs at the US National Security Council in the late 1990s.


The journalist who met Victor Bout by accident and took the first photos of him


Victor Butt alias Bout
Meet Victor Anatoliyevich Bout, soon afterwards labelled 'Merchant of Death'
Viktor Bout
Victor Bout


Sunday Newspapers
A media star was born


Kathi Austin

Kathi Austin explains how she tried to stem the transport of illegal weapons, using aircraft with false identities. She was part of a small UN group who made a brave attempt in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other African countries. [BBC News article]


The OFAC joined the fray...
The US Treasury seized VB's cargo planes and froze his assets, which is said to have cost him some $6 billion (£4 billion).


More interviews
Meanwhile, under the George G.W. Bush Administration, the attention for Victor Bout seemed to fade, much to the dismay of people who felt strongly about people like VB continueing their international arms trade. Including Andreas Morgner, seen above.


Russian Television
Victor Bout got media attention in Russia.

Victor Bout for RT Spotlight

When VB was asked if he ever transported illegal products, he replied "would you ask a Russian taxi driver if he ever carried a criminal?"


Meanwhile, back in Africa..
Meanwhile wars continued in Africa and there was no shortage of arms supply.


The Sting being set up
But things were under way, a sting was being set up..


The Sting: scene 1
Phase one was a contact made with a gobetween in Curacao, posing as a FARC member wanting to buy arms


Go between
The gobetween..


The Sting: phase 2
Victor Bout remained elusive, but the hunt continued


Listening in


Phase 3

Victor Bout could not meet in Bucharest either, so Bangkok,Thailand was suggested


The net closes
"It was Weapons R Us. Anything we needed he was willing to provide," says Tom Pasquerallo, head of the DEA's SE Asia Bureau and the man who made the final arrest.


Everyone in place
06Mar08: everything put in place in Bangkok, the trap ready to spring


An accomplish?
Mikhail Belozersky was arrested in Bangkok with business colleague Viktor Bout. Belozersky claimed his treatment while under arrest amounted to 'torture'.
Russian tv

Before he was released without explanation, Belozersky said he was quizzed by five Americans in civilian clothes. "An American man told me I should immediately leave Thailand, otherwise Id be in trouble," he said


Bout in jail
Viktor Bout could face charges of terrorism in the U.S. and Thailand and war crimes in Africa. He's seen being held in a Bangkok jail after being arrested in the Thai capital for allegedly trying to sell weapons to Colombian FARC guerillas.


Victor Bout behind bars
Behind bars... YouTube video

"The Thai Court will issue its final decision on 11 August 2009"-


The end ..?




This is a title of a film which should be read as a tongue-in-cheek remark. The films uses home video clippings of what VB filmed for he was an enthusiastic filmer. Various 'talking heads' from both sides so to speak: Victor's wife Ala and his brother Sergei get their say, but also people persecuting him and there are journalists and commentators; the overall sense is one of objectivity, how VB functioned as a family man and an entrepeneur, who saw the market slipping away after 'nine-eleven' due to a 'tainted image'.
Here are some images of this documentary, perhaps you can watch it online somewhere.

Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
Victor filmed so much; perhaps only scenery is on here...
Who is Victor Bout and what has he done..
Scapegoat or victim of a conspiracy...
My mother was a bookkeepr and my father a car mechanic...

Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
After my enlistment I took up studies...
In 1987 I first travelled abroad...
Victor was always full of ideas...
A smart person could always make money in Moscow...

Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
Dear bride and groom...
Ilyushin 76. My first airplane...


Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
I asked my brother Sergei to become my partner...
Textiles, radio-cassetterecorders, televisions and computers...
From these countries of which they were made...

Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
Peter Mirtsjev was, so to speak, Victor's retailer, with whom he traded weapons...
After the collapse of the Soviet Union de Bulgarians took up arms dealing...
The most beautiful I have ever seen...

Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
..of the alliance between North Air Charter and Pietersburg Aviation...
Two months later we left South Africa...
Victor Bout of Central African Airways in Kigali, Rwanda

Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
In 2000 I had many contacts with governments in Africa..
.. it was 1998 that all the fuss around him began...

Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
This was because of a number of publications, VN-reports...
End-1990s I first started reading about Victor Bout...
A real Merchant of Death...
Bout is not the Merchant of Death, he is a merchant of a little bit of death...

Screenshots of The Notorious Victor Bout
He is known as a very efficient postman who delivers cargo everywhere...
This is Douglas Farah, co-author of the book 'Merchant of Death'....
The article and pictures in the New York Times...
Sometimes you have the feeling that the whole world is against you...
trailer on YouTube


IMDB: the Nororious Mr Bout
YouTube trailer



Updates & comments welcomed.


Victor Bout, the Official Website

Back to Victor Bout's file

Created 06-Dec-2008,
Updated 28-Mei-2015