Ukrainian envoy upset Bali governor likened his country’s tourists with Russians

Tria Dianti
Ukrainian envoy upset Bali governor likened his country’s tourists with Russians Foreign tourists relax on a beach in Seminyak, Badung regency in Bali, Indonesia, Dec. 7, 2022.
[Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP]

Ukraine’s ambassador to Indonesia on Tuesday said it was “offensive” that the Bali governor likened tourists from his country to those from Russia when proposing to revoke the visa-on-arrival facility for those nations’ visitors.

Bali Gov. I Wayan Koster said Sunday that he had sent a letter to the central government requesting the revocation, citing Russian and Ukrainian tourists’ allegedly frequent violations of the law and local customs.

“I don’t think there’s a logical ground to put Ukrainians and Russians together on the ground that Russia is a neighboring country of Ukraine,” Vasyl Hamianin, Ukraine’s envoy, told reporters.

“I feel this is very offensive toward myself as a citizen of Ukraine. Because to put Russians and Ukrainians together and blaming them for something that is not proven is offensive,” he said.

Koster said he made the request after finding many violations committed by tourists from those two countries, such as overstaying their visas and working illegally in Bali under the guise of being tourists.

“Why these two countries? Because they are at war right now and it is not safe in their countries,” he said on Sunday.

“Many of them come to Bali in large numbers. They include people who are not here for tourism, but for seeking comfort and work.”

The visa on arrival policy allows citizens from 86 countries to obtain a visa upon arrival in Indonesia for a fee. It is valid for 30 days and can be extended once for another 30 days.

The Russian embassy in Jakarta has not publicly commented on Koster’s proposal.

Indonesian immigration authorities said Russian tourist arrivals fell in February to 15,000, from 20,000 in January. As of mid-March, 5,000 tourists had arrived in the country.

‘Wide-ranging implications’

Indonesia’s immigration office said it was reviewing the governor’s request.

Koster’s move came after local media reported alleged violations by Russian and Ukrainian tourists, including setting up businesses and working in Bali on tourist visas.

Balinese also complained about their reckless behavior when riding on motorcycles.

In addition, Bali police said a Ukrainian national had been charged with bribing officials to obtain an Indonesian identity card through a middleman. He told officers that he did so to avoid war in his home country, local media reported.

Meanwhile, four Russian nationals have been arrested by immigration officials for allegedly overstaying their visas in an attempt to dodge military service in Russia, according to the news website.

Last week, authorities deported three Russian women for alleged sex work.

Silmy Karim, the director general of immigration, said it was essential to have a consistent immigration policy.

“We have to examine the request carefully because it will have wide-ranging implications, especially since Russian and Ukrainian nationals are also spread across other regions in Indonesia,” Silmy, the director general of immigration, said in a statement.

He noted there had been a decline in visitors from Russia and Ukraine who used the visa on arrival or electronic visa-on-arrival service at Bali’s international airport because of more effective immigration enforcement by his office.

The number of visitors from Russia and Ukraine using these services at the Bali airport had dropped by about 30 percent in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the last quarter of 2022, Silmy said.

His office also deployed a special team to monitor and crack down on foreigners who violated regulations or caused public disturbances in Bali, he said.

“Bali, whose economy largely depends on tourism, needed a stimulus when the sector was hit hard by the pandemic. When the global health situation improved, we needed to bring in foreign tourists to boost state revenue and revive the economy, so we were more permissive toward them,” he said.

“But I have instructed my team to help Bali deal with foreigners who break immigration laws and disrupt order there,” Silmy said.

Through 2022, Australia topped the list of visitors to Bali (640,406), followed by India (252,241), the United States (162,914) and the United Kingdom (157,106), the immigration office said.

For January and February, China topped the list with 27,351 visitors, followed by Russia (13,963) South Korea (3,736) and Japan (3,025).


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