Fugitive Tells FSB He Is an AmericanMay 07, 2007
The Moscow Times
A 24-year-old fugitive has been detained in Samara while posing as a U.S. citizen trying to set a world record by crossing Russia without money or identification.
Rustam Dzhumaliyev, of the Primorye region village of Khasan, was detained near the campus of Samara State University by the Federal Security Service last week, the FSB's Samara region branch said in a statement.
A federal warrant was put out for Dzhumaliyev's arrest following a parole violation back home in the Far East, Interfax reported.
When FSB officers asked where he was from, Dzhumaliyev said in English that he was a U.S. citizen "traveling around the world" and that his mission was to "cross Russia from Vladivostok to Murmansk without money or documents," the statement said, Interfax reported.
An FSB spokesman in Moscow said Friday that he had no information about the case. Officials at the agency's Samara branch could not be reached for comment.
Dzhumaliyev, pretending he did not speak a word of Russian, had been traveling around the country for months while acquaintances paid his way, Interfax said.
Using his excellent English, he "easily fooled not only random acquaintances, but also law enforcement structures," the report said.
While in Orenburg, he apparently was interviewed by a local newspaper, Yaik, about his journey across the country.
The interview, published April 18, is with a "DJ from Los Angeles" named "Lamar" who "doesn't know a word of Russian."
"You can always find a common language with people, regardless of their nationality," Lamar told the newspaper.
Lamar said he was born in Thailand, grew up in California, and that in the 24 years of his life had been in Australia, America, Japan and Europe. "And now I have made it to Russia," he said.
Lamar said that he was shocked at how much vodka people in Russia drink.
"I'd never seen anything like it," he said. "Honestly, I don't really like this beverage -- it's too strong -- but I realized that you can't get by in Russia without it."
The newspaper said Lamar arrived in Orenburg on March 11.
The European-Asian News news site (www.ean66.ru) published a report from Chelyabinsk on Feb. 27 of Lamar's travels.
The report gives some insight as to how relaxed law enforcement officials were about Lamar's lack of documents. It quoted an acquaintance of Lamar's named Maxim Isakov as saying he had met Lamar "by chance" when traffic police stopped friends in Yekaterinburg and Lamar asked them to give him a ride.
"That's how he ended up in Chelyabinsk, although as I understand he was insisting on visiting our city," Isakov said.
Dzhumaliyev had been convicted of robbery by a court in the Far East city of Khabarovsk and given a suspended sentence. But authorities issued a warrant for his arrest after he violated his parole, Interfax said.
Dzhumaliyev, who told officers in Samara that his name was Saktar Lertvartrakan, said he was hoping to set a Guinness world record with his trek, the FSB statement said.
But when security service officers pressed him over discrepancies in his story, he became agitated and began threatening "an international scandal between Russia and the United States."
During questioning, Dzhumaliyev spoke in English through a translator before finally breaking down and giving his true identity in Russian, the FSB said.
Authorities plan to transfer him to a detention facility in the Primorye region city of Ussuriisk.