Indonesia and especially Bali is a “paradise” destination for tourists around the world.
However, in recent months, residents of the island, although happy with the arrival of tourists, have become concerned about the mass arrivals of Ukrainians and Russians.
After Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Indonesians find that most arrivals in the country come from Russians who want to avoid the war and the regime Putin has imposed, while Ukrainians want to flee the war zone.
According to official figures, since the war began in 2022, 58,000 Russians have traveled to Bali, but within the first two months of 2023, almost half of them (22,500) have already arrived in Bali. At the same time, of the 7,000 Ukrainians who traveled to the country last year, 2,500 had already arrived by February.
The joint presence of thousands of people from both countries has created serious problems, with authorities reporting frequent incidents, mostly blamed on the Russians.
In fact, they are asking the government to stop issuing visas to citizens of both countries, as most of them have taken illegal jobs and are trying to extend their stay there until the end of the war or – in some cases – permanently.
Russians get illegal jobs in Indonesia
Hairdressers, unlicensed taxi drivers and tour guides are some of the jobs they have taken on, but what is worrying is that in many cases they cause incidents.
“Whenever we have reports of indecent behavior by foreigners, it’s almost certainly Russians,” a police officer from the city of Kuta told CNN.
“They come to Bali and act like they’re above the law. It happens all the time and it has to stop,” he added, noting that the percentage of incidents involving Russians reaches 80%!
Although visa policies have been relaxed, there are serious considerations about making an exception for these two countries, although British tourists also cause outrage in their costumes in Bali every year.
“The reason we are making an exception is simply because these two countries are at war and want to flee here,” said Bali Governor Wayne Koster.
“Cheap” Indonesia and the… terror of returning to Russia
One of the Russians who left the country, a former banker, explained why he did it. “Nobody wants to stay there in the middle of a war. Just the thought of returning to Russia and being punished for it is distressing. So it makes sense to invest somewhere cheaper and safer than Moscow,” he said.
A photographer and a street artist found themselves in Bali for the same reason.
“We were forced to leave. We came here as tourists. The political situation in our country is difficult. I am against war. And many who do not agree with him, we came to Bali. Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians who are here, we are fine because we all agree that we are against the war. It’s nice here, far from the Russian soldiers,” said A. Oveshekin.
Russians and Ukrainians take a tourist visa that is valid for 30 days and can be extended for another 30 days. Then they have to leave the country, but everyone is looking for a way to extend their stay. Several Russians have already been deported for illegally extending their stay in the country while taking jobs without a work permit.
“It’s a nice place here, with nice weather and safety. It has a lot of Russians, but no Russian soldiers,” says Ukrainian Dmytro. “We respect the law and the culture here. Many of those who stayed at home ask about life here, why they want to come. But it’s sad that they put us on the same footing as the Russians coming to Bali and all they do is cause riots and disobey the law,” he added.