Indonesian officials announced on Friday that a Russian influencer and her husband will be deported from Bali after they staged a naked photoshoot on a sacred 700-year-old tree three years ago.
Alina Fazleeva, who has over 18,000 followers on Instagram, staged a nude photoshoot in 2019 at a weeping paperbark tree inside Babakan temple grounds in the Tabanan Regency.
She uploaded the photos, taken by her husband Andrey Fazleev, and in the caption described hearing “her ancestors’ voices” when she hugged the tree, saying that she had become a “part of an endless chain.”
Fazleeva’s Instagram posts were recently discovered by and enraged local Hindu-Buddhist Balinese communities. Balinese entrepreneur Niluh Djelantik then reported the photos to local police, prompting an investigation into the incident.
In Balinese Hindu culture, elements of nature, such as trees and mountains, are considered a sacred home for the gods.
Before Fazleeva turned herself in, she and her husband revisited the sacred tree with a local man to “ask its forgiveness.” She then went to the police station where she cooperated with local authorities and also reached out to Djelantik to apologize.
“Both of them are proven to have carried out activities that endanger public order and do not respect the local norms,” Bali Immigration Chief Jamaruli Manihuruk told reporters per Times Malta. “So they will be sanctioned with deportation.”
The couple had to participate in a cleansing ceremony with temple caretaker Kurnya Wijaya, who explained that doing so would “clear the tree of the obscenities.” They have also been banned from entering Indonesia for a minimum of six months.
On her Instagram account, which is now private, Fazleeva apologized for her actions, stating that she had “made a big mistake.”
“There are a lot of sacred places in Bali and not all of them have information signs about it, as in my case,” Fazleeva wrote. “And, it is very important to treat these places and traditions with respect.”