‘People think I’m in the Gulag’: ‘Bald and Bankrupt’ British YouTube star denies Russian claims that he was arrested near Kazakhstan spaceport saying he was ‘questioned for a few hours’ before being fined £60
- A British YouTube star has denied he was detained in a Gulag by Russian police
- Rich Benjamin was stopped with a woman near Baikonur launch pad, Kazakhstan
- Yet the British blogger with 3.5m followers said he was let off with a £60 fine
A British YouTube star has denied he was detained in a Gulag at the Russian spaceport of Baikonur in Kazakhstan last night.
Rich Benjamin is known for his video blogging account Bald and Bankrupt. He was stopped with Belarusian woman Alina Tseliupa near one of the launch pads at Baikonur last night.
The blogger said he was questioned for hours by police but not arrested and instead let off with a £60 fine.
Mr Benjamin wrote on his Instagram: ‘I’ve woken up to a load of messages asking me if I’m OK. Apparently people think I’m in a Gulag because of some Twitter post.
‘I was questioned by Russian police for a few hours for going to see the Buran rocket without the special permission and given a £60 administrative fine just like hundreds of foreign adventurers before me.
Rich Benjamin (pictured today) is known for his video blogging account Bald and Bankrupt
He was stopped with Belarusian woman Alina Tseliupa near one of the launch pads at Baikonur
The blogger said he was questioned for hours by police but not arrested and instead let off with a £60 fine
He took to Instagram to say ‘people think I’m in a Gulag because of some Twitter post’. He said he was only questioned by Russian police ‘for a few hours’
‘I wasn’t arrested. It’s not a criminal offence not to have the permission slip.
‘It’s an administrative offence meaning just a fine and told to not do it again just like smoking in the wrong place or jaywalking.
‘All the cops were friendly and gave us a lift to the train station afterwards. Was a great day anyway I got to see the Burans and they are spectacular.’
Last night Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of space agency Roscosmos, sparked worries the star had been detained after he said on Telegram Mr Benjamin and Ms Tseliupa had been ‘linked to the organisation of illegal actions’ but gave no further details.
Benjamin has more than 3.5 million followers on his YouTube channel, which has recently included videos from the Ukrainian border.
His most popular clip, viewed some 10 million times, documented a trip to Moldova, and was titled ‘Nobody Visits This Country…Find Out Why’.
Preparations for the launch of a Soyuz-2.1a rocket booster with a Fregat upper stage block carrying 38 satellites from 18 countries from a launch pad of Baikonur Cosmodrome, where Rich Benjamin was arrested
Benjamin has more than 3.5 million followers on his YouTube channel, which has recently included videos from the Ukrainian border
Some of Benjamin’s videos feature a woman called Alina but it was not immediately clear whether she and Tseliupa were the same person.
The most recent video on Rich’s channel was filmed in Syria and posted on April 24. In an Instagram post last week, Rich said ‘Syrian suntan and back in a country with Soviet mosaics’ but did not specify where he was.
Baikonur, once a closed Soviet city, is now open to tourists who apply for permission from Roscosmos.
It lies in the steppe around 1,100km (680miles) southwest of the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan.
What is the Buran rocket?
The Buran rocket was an unmanned space shuttle intended for both scientific and military applications.
It made a single unmanned, fully automated flight in 1988, only to be grounded shortly thereafter due to cost overruns and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
A mock-up of the Buran Soviet/Russian reusable space shuttle at an assembling and refuelling complex at Baikonur Cosmodrome
While the Buran orbiter had a brief operational life, much of the research and technology that went into it would prove useful in the Russian-designed elements of the International Space Station.