Russian ‘yogi’ apologizes for posing naked on sacred Balinese tree, turns herself over to police

Images @alina_yogi
Images @alina_yogi

The line between what is considered sacred and obscene varies greatly between individuals and cultures. But if you’re visiting a foreign country, you had best do your research and figure out what the local people believe before doing anything that might cross that line, particularly if you’re planning on posting a video of it on social media.

That’s a lesson several foreigners visiting the island of Bali have had to learn the hard way recently. After last week’s uproar over a Canadian man who performed a naked haka-style dance atop sacred Mt. Batur (managing to disrespect both Balinese and Maori culture at the same time), this week a Russian woman is in hot water after a video showing her posing naked on an ancient tree considered sacred to the Balinese went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Read also: ‘Fearless child of God’ faces deportation over butt-naked dance on Bali’s Mount Batur: officials

The video, shared by an account with the handle @alina_yogi, first gained notoriety after a screenshot of it was shared yesterday on Instagram by Balinese entrepreneur Niluh Djelantik, who said it was shot atop a sacred 700-year-old kayu putih (weeping paperbark) tree, located on the grounds of Babakan Temple in Tabanan regency.

She asked her followers if any of them had more information on the woman and said that customary sanctions awaited her, including the costs of the ritual cleansing ceremonies that locals would need to perform to sanctify the area once more.

In an update, she said that local authorities had been informed and that immigration officers were investigating the woman’s whereabouts. 

The Tabanan Police confirmed to local media yesterday that they were investigating the incident. However, the police spokesperson speculated that the video was shot several years ago, as there was now security around the perimeter of the temple that monitored the tree throughout the day.

In a follow-up post, Niluh Djelantik put together a video compilation juxtaposing the nude tree-poser’s video with that of the Canadian naked mountain dancer and another featuring what appears to be a foreigner masturbating below a Balinese waterfall. Atop the videos she added the text “Bali don’t need trashy tourists like this”.

In her caption, Niluh Djelantik added to that sentiment, writing:

TRASHY TOURIST. GO HOME !!!!

You called yourself a yogi, healer, motivational speaker or whatever. It make you think you can do whatever you want.

Well, you meet the wrong person. I won’t let you destroy our home land with your low class attitude.

We don’t have any problem with you. You are welcome to have a good time and enjoy our island. But if you not respect us. Deportation and consequences are waiting.

As people of tradition, we have big responsibility and cleaning ceremony to be done when our holy place is being treated with no respect by you. Do you know what it means? Where is your empathy? Use your brain next time to find and learn about the country you are visiting.

Apparently, word got back to Alina that her naked photoshoot had caused great offense. She obviously deleted the original video from her accounts but late in the day yesterday, she posted this picture and video of herself praying and asking for forgiveness in front of the tree on her Instagram.

In the caption, she wrote an apology in Indonesian that reads: I apologize to all Balinese and Indonesian people, I regret my actions. I’m so embarrassed, I didn’t mean to offend you in any way, I had absolutely no knowledge of this place. I just prayed under a tree and went straight to the police station to explain this incident and apologize.

She also sent the same apology to Niluh Djelantik, who shared it on Instagram along with her response in which she thanked Alina and said we accept your apology, but noted that the investigation by Immigration and police officials would continue and that she would still be responsible for covering the costs of the cleansing ceremony needed to sanctify the area once more. 

Tabanan Police Chief Ranefli Dian Candra confirmed to iNews today that the woman in the video, a Russian national named Alina, had indeed turned herself in at a police station yesterday. He did not say what potential legal consequences she might face but said the Bali Police Directorate would continue to process the case.

The Russian national could theoretically be charged with spreading pornography under Indonesia’s draconian Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison or a fine of IDR1 billion (US$69,630). Like the naked Mount Batur dancer, she could also potentially be punished with the revocation of her visa followed by deportation.

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