Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, tens of thousands of Russians have flocked to Bali, the tropical Indonesian paradise.
Some 58,000 Russians visited this Southeast Asian idyll in 2022 following its post-Covid reopening, and a further 22,500 arrived in January 2023 alone, according to the Indonesian government. Adding to their number are the more than 7,000 Ukrainians who arrived in 2022, and some 2,500 in the first month of this year.
But for those fleeing the violence – or the draft – there’s trouble in paradise.
Balinese authorities this week called for the end to Indonesia’s visa-on-arrival policy for citizens of Russia and Ukraine, citing a spate of alleged incidents involving misbehavior and various examples of visitors overstaying their visas and working illegally as hairdressers, unauthorized tour guides and taxi drivers.
“Whenever we get reports about a foreigner behaving badly, it’s almost always Russian,” a local police officer in the town of Kuta told CNN, declining to be identified due to sensitivities surrounding the issue.
The move has been met with dismay by many Ukrainians on the island, who also claim most negative incidents involve Russians and that they are being unfairly tarred with the same brush.