Russian seaman chooses jail over ship, police say

December 31, 2003|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

It wasn't an attempt to gain political asylum, but a Russian seaman's try for temporary freedom was close to it.

Early Monday, Baltimore police responding to a bank's burglar alarm found a shattered front window and a man wandering around inside who spoke a language that none of the officers could understand, said Southeastern District Lt. David Reitz.

After several failed attempts to talk the intruder out, officers entered the 1st Mariner Bank in the 1500 block of S. Highland Ave. and arrested the man without incident. He was treated at Mercy Medical Center for minor injuries.

A call went out for any officer who could speak Russian. It was not known if such an officer was found.

However, an investigation revealed the man was a crewman aboard the Russian freighter Kaptan Kuzmin, which arrived in Baltimore on Christmas Eve to deliver cargo. The crewman apparently jumped ship because other crewmen threatened to harm him for an unknown reason, Reitz said.

"It appears he feared for his life so much aboard the ship that he broke into the bank to get himself arrested and end up in Central Booking and Intake Center instead of the ship," Reitz said.

Viktor Zavyalov, 42, whose home address was not available, was charged with burglary and was being held at Central Booking on $5,000 bail, said Lt. James Sharpe.

It wasn't known if a Russian consulate official would intervene on Zavyalov's behalf or if his ship would sail without him, Sharpe said.

No money was taken from the bank, Reitz said.

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