Dubai Ukrainian models to be deported over naked balcony photo shoot in bid to crack down on public decency while continuing to promote destination as Instagram jet-set location. Models avoid jail time and fines.
The models arrested for posing naked in a high-rise balcony photo shoot in Dubai over the weekend will avoid jail, authorities confirmed as the United Arabic Emirates nation cracks down on public decency according to reports.
Dubai police detained at least 11 Ukrainian women who posed naked in broad daylight along with a male Russian photographer on charges of public debauchery and producing adult content.
Earlier this week, images and videos of the naked women were shared across social media, where they went viral, serving to upend the Emirates state – where a legal code based on Islamic law, or Sharia, has landed foreigners in jail for tamer offenses.
Following an investigation, Dubai’s Attorney General Essam Issa al-Humaidan announced that those behind the photo shoot would be deported to their home countries, while declining to elaborate further according to APNews.
Dubai police have declined to officially identify those detained. More than a dozen women appeared in the widely shared video – with some named by Russian media.
Marianna Fedchuk Russian model
One woman outed by local media, Marianna Fedchuk, 21, admitted to being in a clothed picture including many women who subsequently stripped for the naked shot – but denied being one of the women on the balcony.
She said she flew back to Kyiv before the photo was taken, she said, as she urged her followers to follow her x-rated social media pages ‘more closely, so you can at least distinguish naked me from the other naked girls’ according to the dailymail.
Ukrainian and Russian authorities confirmed the arrest of their citizens Tuesday, but the nationalities of the others detained were not immediately known. Other girls involved are thought to have hailed from Belarus and Moldova.
The swift deportation is rare for the legal system in Dubai. Such cases typically go to trial or are otherwise adjudicated before deportation.
In #Dubai, naked girls staged a photo shoot on the balcony
Among them there are 8 #Russian women, the initiator of the shooting is also from Russia. The participants in the photo session face up to 6 months in prison, and the organizer – 1.5 years. pic.twitter.com/nWBikWMdIX
— Snow Leapord (@Reject_DMK) April 5, 2021
‘The public prosecutor ordered the deportation of the accused for their behavior contrary to public morals,’ al-Humaidan said, adding that the group of women had been charged with violating the country’s public decency law.
Dubai is a top destination for the world’s Instagram influencers and models, who fill their social media feeds with slick bikini-clad selfies from the coastal Emirate’s luxury hotels and artificial islands.
But the city’s brand as a glitzy foreign tourist destination has at times provoked controversy and collided with the sheikhdom’s strict rules governing public behavior and expression.
International party haven at odds with local Sharia
The nude photo shoot scandal came just days before Ramadan – the holiest month of the Muslim calendar – and as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky landed in nearby Doha, Qatar, for an official state visit.
Over the years, Dubai increasingly has promoted itself as a popular destination for Russians on holiday.
Earlier this year, as Dubai promoted itself as a major pandemic-friendly party haven for travelers fleeing tough lockdowns elsewhere, European reality TV show stars came under fire for flaunting their poolside Dubai vacations on social media and for bringing the coronavirus back home. Denmark and the United Kingdom later banned flights to the UAE as virus cases surged in the federation of seven sheikhdoms.
Signs in Cyrillic are a common sight at the city’s major malls as a testament to the swaths of Russian and Ukrainian tourists that come ostensibly to party.
A Russian man who organized the scene — taking footage from a nearby balcony — was arrested, too, the Sun reported, citing Russian news outlets.
He was identified as Alexey Konstov, although he has denied having anything to do with the incident. The tabloid reported the photographer telling police he was in a nearby apartment and had filmed the spectacle showing the naked women.
Turning a blind eye?
Konstov is described as heading up an information technology firm in Russia’s Ivanovo region, though his firm denied he had anything to do with the photo shoot.
Stanislav Voskresensky, the governor of Ivanovo, asked the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russia’s ambassador to the UAE to offer the Russian man their support.
‘We don’t abandon our own,’ Voskresensky wrote on social media.
It’s not the first time that foreign social media influencers have drawn unwanted scrutiny in the United Arab Emirates.
Although the UAE has recently made legal changes to attract foreign tourists and investors – allowing unmarried couples to share hotel rooms and residents to drink alcohol without a license – the Gulf Arab country’s justice system retains harsh penalties for violations of the public decency law.
Nudity and other ‘lewd behavior,’ carry penalties of up to six months in prison and a fine of 5,000 dirhams or$1,361.28 USD).
The sharing of adult material is also punishable with prison time and hefty fines. The country’s majority state-owned telecom companies block access to adult websites.
Foreigners, who make up some 90 per cent of the UAE’s population of over 9 million, have been imprisoned for comments and videos online, as well as for offenses considered benign in the West, like kissing in public.
Dubai police often turn a blind eye to foreigners misbehaving.