Bali Governor I Wayan Koster has reiterated that the province will not tolerate any foreign nationals who do not respect the local culture as authorities deported on Friday night a Russian couple caught in a viral video, which shows one of the pair posing naked by a sacred tree at a temple compound.
“Although they have apologized, we will not forgive them. They should be sanctioned. It is about maintaining the dignity and [honor] of Balinese culture,” Koster told a press conference earlier on Friday, at which the couple was also present.
“It is more important for us to uphold our culture, respect the dignity of Balinese culture, rather than tolerate any action that damages Balinese culture and the image of Bali tourism in the eyes of the world,” Koster said.
“If you can’t follow the rules, just don’t come to Bali,” he stressed.
Alina Fazleeva, 28, and Amdrei Fazleev, 36, who were in Bali on a temporary stay permit (KITAS), were deported from the country and prohibited from returning for at least six months.
Fazleev recorded a video on May 1 of his wife Fazleeva posing nude by a 700-year-old tree at Babakan Temple in Tabanan, Bali. He then uploaded the footage to her Instagram account, which has more than 18,000 followers.
“They have been found guilty of a public order disturbance and disrespecting the country’s rules. They are deported and banned from entering Indonesia for violating the immigration law,” Jamaruli Manuhuruk, the head of the Bali Justice and Human Rights Office, said.
Soon after the video went viral, the couple returned to the tree and performed a ritual to ask for forgiveness. The local police brought in the couple for questioning and then transferred the pair to the Immigration Office’s detention center.
The couple told authorities they were not aware that the site was sacred, and that they were taking a series of photographs themed “merging with nature” for personal purposes.
Balinese authorities decided last month to deport Canadian actor and self-proclaimed wellness guru Jeffrey Douglas Craigen, 34, after a viral video emerged showing him dancing naked at a sacred mountain.
The Hindu-majority province has expelled dozens of foreigners in recent years for disrespecting sacred sites or flouting the Covid-19 restrictions.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK