YouTuber Benjamin Rich denies arrest at Russia-controlled space centre

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Baikonur is only open to tourists who apply for a permit from the Russian space agency Roscosmos

Benjamin Rich, a British citizen best known for his YouTube travel blog, has denied Russia’s claim that he was arrested at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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But who is Benjamin Rich and what happened in Kazakhstan?

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Who is Benjamin Rich?

Benjamin Rich, 48, is a YouTuber best known for his travel blog Bald and Bankrupt.

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He specializes in traveling to remote and sometimes dangerous parts of the world and has 3.5 million followers on his channel.

Benjamin Rich, 48, is a YouTuber best known for his travel blog Bald and Bankrupt

What happened in Kazakhstan?

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Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, said Saturday (May 7) that Mr Rich and Belarusian citizen Alina Tseliupa were arrested at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Baikonur is now open to tourists who apply for a permit from Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.

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In an online post, Rogozin said Mr Rich and Ms Tseliupa were arrested near one of the launch pads and are being held by city authorities.

Mr Rogozin said local authorities would determine “the exact extent of the couple’s involvement in illegal activities”.

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He also released photos of Mr. Rich’s visa and Ms. Tseliupa’s passport.

However, Mr Rich said he was only questioned by authorities for a few hours and in an Instagram story he said he was by no means arrested.

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He posted on Instagram to reveal that he has been released, along with footage of him showing buildings in the former closed Soviet city.

“I woke up to a ton of texts asking if I was okay. Apparently people think I’m in a gulag because of a Twitter post,” he said.

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“Basically, I was interrogated by the Russian police for a few hours for seeing the Buran missile without special permission and given an administrative fine of £60, just like hundreds of foreign adventurers before me.

“The police were also kind enough to show me the closed city of Baikonur. Has a great mosaic of a cosmonaut. Lying in my hotel room right now, watching TV and eating doshirak (red, of course)… Hardly a gulag.”

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