British YouTuber Denies Being Arrested At Russian Spaceport

by 24britishtvMay 8, 2022, 11 a.m. 11
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British YouTuber Benjamin Rich has responded after the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos said he was detained at a spaceport belonging to the country.

Rich has garnered 3.53 million subscribers on his YouTube channel Bald and Bankrupt, which he uses to share videos of himself travelling in remote and sometimes dangerous areas, describing himself as being 'off the map in former Soviet lands...'

Recent videos have seen him visiting the Ukraine-Russian border just before Vladimir Putin's invasion, travelling on a refugee train and exploring Syria. His most recent YouTube post came 13 days ago, and on Saturday (7 May) Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin announced he had been detained.

Rogozin shared the news in a post on Telegram, Reuters reports, in which he said Rich was detained at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spaceport is located in an area of southern Kazakhstan and is rented by Russia.

Rich had been with a woman named Alina Tseliupa, reported to be from Belarus, when the pair were caught near one of the launch pads at Baikonur.

The space agency head claimed in his post local authorities were determining 'the exact level of participation in illegal activities' by the pair and explained Rich and Tseliupa were being held at the department of internal affairs in Baikonur, located around 1,100 km (680 miles) southwest of the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, Rogozin added.

Baikonur Cosmodrome was established in 1955 by the USSR Ministry of Defence, and although the city was once closed it is now open to tourists who apply for permission from Roscosmos. The Cosmodrome is the site of the launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, in 1957.

Rich took to Instagram to respond to the news, claiming he 'wasn't arrested' and saying instead he was 'questioned by Russian police for a few hours for going to see the Buran rocket without the special permission'.

The YouTuber claimed he had been given a '£60 administrative fine', writing: "It's not a criminal offence not to have the permission slip. It's an administrative offence meaning just a fine... All the cops were friendly and gave us a lift to the train station afterwards."

The head of the space agency posted photos of Rich's visa and Tseliupa's passport, and while some of Rich's videos feature a woman called Alina it is not immediately clear whether she and Tseliupa are the same person.

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