Viktor Bout, the infamous Russian arms dealer who was portrayed by Nicolas Cage in Lord of War, is currently spending his time in the United States — at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, to be exact.
These days, while serving his 25-year sentence, Bout apparently continues to attract unwanted attention from authorities, not for attempts to smuggle weapons, but for the clandestine science of making kombucha, the fermented tea with noted health benefits. It is believed to alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and fight inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease.
“Viktor spent a lot of effort and time growing up kombucha from the leftovers of the sweet tea in his cell,” Bout’s wife, Alla Bout, told RIA Novosti, a state-operated Russian news agency. “The kombucha that he grew up was made out of nothing, he hadn’t had a piece that would have been grown by anybody. Kombucha is a folk remedy, very traditional for Russia.”
According to his wife, Bout even used the tea to treat stomach problems for fellow inmates, who found prison to food to be less than nutritionally balanced. Nonetheless, because kombucha contains a very small amount of alcohol (negligible for non-inmates), “it was prohibited to Viktor to keep and grow kombucha.”