Editor’s Note: Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destinations opening and closing, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.
A Russian tourist who took a semi-nude photo at a sacred Bali site may be deported after the picture went viral online.
The tourist, identified only by his first name, Yuri, shared a picture of himself naked from the waist down at Mount Agung, the highest point on the Indonesian island.
Ni Luh Djelantik, a politician and businesswoman from Bali, told CNN that she had mediated a reconciliation between Yuri, Russian tourists and the local people around Mount Agung.
Hindu Balinese believe that Mount Agung, a volcano, represents the god Shiva. A permit is required for anyone who wishes to hike it.
Yuri has since removed the offending photo from his Instagram page and replaced it with a video of him apologizing.
“There is no excuse for my actions. The only thing that led to what happened was my personal ignorance,” he wrote in the post.
“After studying the culture and religion of Bali, I realized my mistake. Agung is a sacred symbol for the Balinese. Shiva destroys the universe in a continuous circle of rebirths. The locals revere the gods and believe that if you anger them, an eruption will occur. And this will lead to the destruction of the island.”
As part of the mediation worked out by Ni Luh, Yuri will reportedly participate in a traditional macaru, which is a ceremony carried out by Balinese Hindus to maintain harmony between humans and nature.
Yuri’s case is now being handled by the Bali director general of immigration and he is required to report every day to the Bali Immigration Office.
No final decision has been made on whether he will be deported from the island or permitted to stay following the ceremony.
Of late, Bali’s government has made moves to crack down on foreign tourists whose behavior runs afoul of local customs.
On March 12, the tourism board posted an English-language advisory for visitors. The list of suggestions included: “Do not post offensive, vulgar pictures to social media.”
The same day, Bali Governor Wayan Koster announced that foreigners would no longer be allowed to rent motorbikes and that international visitors would not be able to work on the island without the proper visas – a move intended to go after some of the “digital nomads” who live on Bali while working remotely.
Russians are currently the second largest tourist group in Bali. More than 43,000 Russian nationals arrived on the island in the first three months of 2023.
One reason for the influx is that some young Russians are fleeing their native country in order to avoid being drafted into the military.
Their presence on Bali has not been universally welcomed.
A police officer in the town of Kuta told CNN that “whenever we get reports about a foreigner behaving badly, it’s almost always Russian.”
Currently, Russian passport holders can get a 30-day visa on arrival to Bali, with the ability to extend it to 60 days. However, amid recent backlash, some Balinese are calling for immigration to tighten entry rules.
CNN’s Heather Chen contributed reporting.