Detained Adventurer in Good Spirits

A British adventurer who was detained in Chukotka for illegally crossing the border waited anxiously Wednesday to see if authorities would allow him to continue his 7 1/2-year-old attempt to journey around the world by foot.

Karl Bushby, a former paratrooper, was detained together with a travel companion, Dmitri Kieffer of the United States, after arriving from Alaska by making a hazardous 15-day trek across a frozen 90-kilometer stretch of the Bering Strait.

The two are being held in the small settlement of Lavrenty, about 800 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital, Anadyr, but are free to walk around.

Bushby's father, Keith, said by telephone from England that his son "is in good spirits. He's free to walk around the town if they want."

Bushby said his son was hoping to fly to Alaska, recover equipment that he had left there and return to Russia to continue his journey with all his documents in order.

"Karl is very anxious to know if one day he will be allowed to walk through Russia because if they don't give him permission to walk through that area, then the expedition will be over, which has taken 7 1/2 years so far," Bushby said.

His 37-year-old son made the Bering crossing as part of a round-the-world walk that began in 1998 at the southern tip of South America. Since the beginning of his journey on Nov. 1, 1998, he has covered 27,000 kilometers.

A spokesman for the British Embassy in Moscow said that it hoped the matter would be resolved, saying Bushby and Kieffer had not meant to violate border regulations. "According to Karl, some of the local police are in fact quite overawed at his feat. He is now waiting for some more senior Russian officials to come and interview him," said the British diplomat on condition of anonymity because Foreign Office rules bar him from being identified.

The two had Russian visas but failed to register with local authorities as foreigners are required to do, and security officials are investigating the incident, said Andrei Orlov, spokesman for the Federal Security Service's northeastern border guard department, Interfax reported.

The government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported that the adventurers were treated with suspicion as possible intelligence agents. "The suspicious-looking guests weren't allowed to walk on Russian snow freely -- a border guard detachment and together with locals detained the visitors," the paper said in its Wednesday issue.

The travelers insist they were en route to the village where they wanted to file their registration forms but were stopped before they could reach it.

"Meanwhile, their story very much resembled a bad spy's alibi," the newspaper concluded.

Vasily Dobriyev, a Lavrenty resident who has been assisting Bushby, said the travelers had moved from a hotel to the house of an Orthodox priest.

"They are feeling fine, they say they will try to set things straight with their documents and come back here one more time," Dobriyev said by telephone. He said the two are planning to go to Anadyr or another nearby town, Provideniye, to catch a flight to the United States.