A man charged with attempted murder in Antarctica was detained in an Orthodox church for 10 days before returning to Russia because there are no jails or cops on the icy continent, Motherboard has learned.
Sergei Savitsky—who has been under house arrest in Russia awaiting trial for attempted murder for allegedly stabbing welder Oleg Beloguzov at Bellingshausen Station, a Russian Antarctic research station—was detained for 10 days in Holy Trinity Church—a small, wood Eastern Orthodox Russian Church on top of a rocky hill on Antarctica’s King George’s Island.
“Mr. S. Savitsky lived together with the priests of our orthodox church for 10 days after the incident before his flight back to Russia,” Alexander Klepikov, the head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition for the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, told Motherboard in an email. “Not any of the Antarctic stations has special premises for temporary isolation of people and no police officers.”
Savitsky and Beloguzov spent months feuding during their time at the station, which was during Antarctic winter, when the sun is down for days at a time. According to several news reports, tensions came to a head when Beloguzov suggested that Savitsky dance on the dining room table for money. After being stabbed several times, Beloguzov was rushed to a military hospital in Chile and managed to survive the incident.
Savitsky surrendered himself to the Bellingshausen station chief after the stabbing and was moved to the church.
The ancient-looking church was actually constructed in 2004. And it’s tiny, with a maximum capacity of thirty people. Unfortunately, one of the main tasks for the pastors based at the church is to conduct funerals for the people who have died on the continent.
Klepikov also told Motherboard that while everyone has to undergo a psychological evaluation before heading down to Antarctica, there aren’t any psychologists stationed there. Rather, Klepikov told Motherboard, there is only a surgeon and general practice doctor at the station.
According to Klepikov, this is the very first criminal incident connected to the Russian Antarctic Expedition over its 63 years of existence. Currently, Klepikov told Motherboard, the stabbing and the its causes are currently being investigated by the Russian Investigations Committee. According to news reports, there’s reason to believe that a combination of alcohol, personal grudges, and long-term isolation were at play.