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British travel YouTuber denies being arrested at Russian spaceport
8 May 2022, 18:04 | Updated: 8 May 2022, 18:05
A British YouTuber has denied being arrested at a Russian-controlled spaceport in Kazakhstan after officials said he was detained near one of the launch pads.
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Travel blogger Benjamin Rich, known for his videos exploring post-Soviet states, was detained near one of the launch pads, but then later released by authorities and given a fine.
He specialises in travel to remote and sometimes dangerous parts of the world and has more than three million subscribers on Youtube.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said in an online post that Rich and a woman named Alina Tseliupa had been detained near one of the launch pads at Baikonur, which Russia rents from Kazakhstan.
Local authorities were determining "the exact level of participation in illegal activities" by the pair, said Rogozin, who posted photos of Rich's visa and Tseliupa's passport.
However, Rich has since denied the claims, saying he was instead fined for going to see a Buran rocket - a Soviet-era orbiter similar to the US space shuttle - without permission.
"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," he said on Instagram.
"Basically I was questioned by Russian police for a few hours for going to see the Buran rocket without the special persmission and given a £60 administrative fine just like hundreds of foreign adventurers before me."
He added: "The police also were nice enough to show me the closed town of Baikonur. Has an awesome mosaic of a cosmonaut."
Baikonur, which was once a closed Soviet city, is now open to tourists who apply for permission from Roscosmos.