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Russian arrested sneaking into Japan for beer April 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Odd World.

A Russian mariner was arrested near disputed waters after he sailed an inflatable boat to Japan’s coast to buy beer, police said Monday.

Sergei Mikhailovich Vashkevich, the off-duty chief mate of a merchant ship, landed on the eastern tip of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido Saturday and bought a case of beer for 10,000 yen ($80) at a highway rest stop. But he was arrested as he headed back with the 24-bottle case on a cape in the city of Nemuro, a local police official said.

Vashkevich, 29, who lives on the far eastern Russian island of Sakhalin, north of Hokkaido, was turned over to public prosecutors Monday on charges of entry without necessary documents.

The two nations’ coast guards have often arrested fishermen for allegedly straying too far, but police said the beer-guzzling fisherman’s case was unique.

Soviet troops seized the four southern Kuril islands off Hokkaido’s coast days after Japan’s surrender in World War II and expelled their Japanese residents. The island issue has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a post-war peace treaty and inhibited economic and other bilateral exchanges.

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