‘Bout has never been on civil service. A swap is out of the question’, Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said. He stressed that Russia will continue to render necessary assistance to Mr Bout.  

Earlier some journalists had claimed that Mr Bout could be swapped for former Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) employee Colonel Andrey Khlychev. Ex-officer was sentenced to 18 years of prison after he was found guilty of treason. On March 4 Moscow City Court delivered the verdict to Khlychev who had revealed the identity of Russian agents working in the USA. The journalists were not allowed in the courtroom. Khlychev will be serving his sentence in a colony with a strict regime.

Mr Bout who says he was wrongly accused has to plead guilty to become eligible for swap.

The media had already discussed the possibility of Bout’s exchange for ex-head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

On March 6, 2008, Viktor Bout was arrested in a hotel in Bangkok in a US-led operation. In November 2010 a Thai court ruled that Bout be extradited in the USA. 

Bout goes on trial in a US Court accused of conspiring to kill the US citizens, murder of police officers and employees of American companies, as well as the trafficking of antiaircraft missiles.