Not all Russian tourists in Bali are jerks, MPR Speaker Bambang Soesatyo says

People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo meeting with a group representing Russian tourists in Bali on March 26, 2023. Photo: Bambang Soesatyo
People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo meeting with a group representing Russian tourists in Bali on March 26, 2023. Photo: Bambang Soesatyo

Indonesian politician Bambang Soesatyo, also known as Bamsoet, is pushing back against negative stereotypes of Russian tourists in Bali.

In a written statement published today, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker asserted that not all Russian tourists in Bali are “brengsek” (Indonesian slang for “jerk” or “disrespectful”) and disobedient to rules and regulations.

Bamsoet’s comments came after he met with representatives of Russian tourists in Bali yesterday to hear their concerns about being unfairly stereotyped due to the actions of a few bad apples.

“The Ngurah Rai Immigration Office recorded, from January to March 2023, 43,622 Russian tourists arrived in Bali… Meanwhile, according to the Bali Police, 56 Russian tourists have committed traffic violations during this period,” he said.

“So not all Russian tourists are jerks.”

He added that the Indonesian government should continue to welcome tourists from all countries and ensure that they are educated about local laws and customs.

It must be noted that Bamsoet did not touch on other infringements committed by tourists in Bali.

Russian travelers have been under intense spotlight on the Island of Gods since an anonymous social media account last month began exposing alleged undocumented workers in Bali, the majority of whom are from Russia. This kick-started wider supervision of unruly tourists – Russians or otherwise – by officials and the public alike.

Earlier this month, Bali Governor Wayan Koster urged the government to strip Russians and Ukrainians of their visa on arrival (VOA) privileges amid the reported violations, regardless of the fact that many see Bali as a safe refuge from the war back home.

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