British plane passenger held without bail

Posted May 04, 2009, at 7:45 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A U.S. magistrate judge on Monday ordered that a British woman who was taken off a London-bound plane last week be held without bail pending the outcome of her case.

Galina Rusanova, 54, of London waived her right to bail in a short hearing at which U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk issued her order.

Rusanova allegedly mixed prescription drugs and wine before drinking liquid hand soap and attacking flight attendants on a flight that left Los Angeles on Wednesday.

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She is charged with interference with a flight crew and assault after the plane on which she was a passenger was diverted to Bangor about 9 p.m. Wednesday. She was arrested the next morning after spending the night at Eastern Maine Medical Center for observation, according to court documents.

In addition to hitting, kicking and punching flight attendants who tried to control her, Rusanova fell to the ground, began “snapping like a dog” and tried to bite the leg of a crew member, according to court documents.

Her trial date has not been set.

She most likely will be indicted by a federal grand jury and arraigned later this month.

In an interview with FBI agents after her arrest Thursday morning, Rusanova said she had traveled to California to meet a man she had communicated with over the Internet, according to the documents. She also told investigators that she was afraid to fly, so she took prescription pills and wine to calm herself.

Information on a Web site bearing Rusanova’s name and a photo of a woman who resembles her states that she was born in Siberia. She worked in theater and radio in her home country of Russia and published children’s books there before moving to London in the late 1980s and becoming a British citizen.

About seven years ago, Rusanova took up painting. Her Web site showcases her portraits of people and wildlife, but she told Kravchuk at a hearing on Friday that she lived on disability in Britain.

If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the interference charge and up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on the assault charge.

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