An Estonian model has got herself in hot water with Bali’s netizens after accusing local police of corruption in an emotionally charged Instagram video.
The winner of Miss Global 2022, Valeria Vasilieva has been visiting Bali for two weeks and has found herself on the wrong side of the law. She was pulled over by traffic police and ordered to pay a fine. It seems she may have been in violation of a number of driving laws including having the right international licenses and documentation and not wearing a helmet.
There is a misconception from many travelers that since the rules of the road in Bali are very different from those in Europe, America, and Australia that there is also little law enforcement. This is not the case, traffic police reserve the right to pull drivers over to check their license, and registration and issue fines should paperwork not be up to date or if drivers are breaking traffic laws. This can include not wearing a helmet or ignoring road signs.
After receiving a fine from traffic police Vasilieva did not hold back on sharing her frustration with her followers. In a damming viral video that she has since removed, the model accused Bali police cops of corruption and overcharging her fine. She said “Just be ready, the police will stop you anywhere, to check the documents you have…they will spend all the money you have on these corrupt cops’.
Making such strong accusations was not well received by local people online. Despite Indonesia having free speech laws, the scope for personal expression online is becoming increasingly limited. Not only do Indonesian people get personally offended by foreigners making negative assertions about their country and systems, but the police are also quick to shut down these kinds of voices. Journalists, influencers and other online commentators must tread a very thin line.
Travelers and long-term international residents in Indonesia are reminded to exercise caution when offering criticism of policies, police, religion, and the government both online and in person. In this instance, it seems Vasilieva’s outburst came from genuine naivety as she has shared a second video issuing a tender apology to the people of Bali and the police for her accusations.
In a second video, posted to both Instragam and TikTok she shares ‘“I want to apologize for my comment this morning. I really enjoyed being in Bali these past few weeks. I don’t mean to be rude or hurt anyone. I’m so sorry, I’m just an ordinary human who can make mistakes.’
The comments on the video have been largely positive, from both locals in Bali and Indonesian people across the country. Many have offered their forgiveness and reminded her to follow the rules. This quick apology and positive repose may be sufficient in ensuring no further legal action is taken against Vasilieva. No doubt she is now aware of the recent deportation of Jeff Craigen and Alina Fazleeva who were found guilty of public nudity in sacred sites in Bali.
Their deportations and black listings served as a reminder to travelers to be respectful of Balinese law and culture. Though Bali is famous for being a care-free destination for travelers from all over the world, local people are tired of foreigners being disrespectful of their island home whether this is through words or actions.
Bali police and immigration departments are taking reports of defamation and disrespect very seriously indeed. During the press conference announcing the deportation of Jeff Craigen and Alina Fazleeva, authorities urged people to report any incidences of foreigners breaking the law to the police. These measures can ensure that Bali’s heritage is respected and preserved and enable visitors to the Islands of the Gods to enjoy the land in all its glory.
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