Eight Russian women are among the dozens of people arrested in Dubai over a widely shared nude photoshoot on a balcony in broad daylight, the Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Monday.
Dubai police announced the arrests on public debauchery charges after video and photos of several naked women posing on the high-rise balcony in the upscale Marina neighborhood made the rounds on social media late Saturday.
Those detained face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,500 for “lewd behavior” under the United Arab Emirates’ laws, which are based on Shariah law, RIA Novosti reported.
RIA Novosti cited Russia’s Consulate General in Dubai as saying that eight Russian nationals were among the 40 people who were arrested.
“The Russian women turned to the Consulate General for help, but it’s difficult to do anything when it’s quite a serious criminal article: taking part in lewd acts,” an unnamed Russian diplomat was quoted as saying.
The diplomat speculated that the women could be pardoned during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that starts next week, RIA Novosti reported.
UAE state-linked newspaper The National reported that the photoshoot appeared to be a “publicity stunt” but didn’t give further details.
Though comparatively more liberal than its Middle Eastern neighbors, the UAE has imprisoned people for milder offenses like kissing in public or drinking alcohol without a license.
The federation of seven Arab sheikhdoms has also jailed residents for social media comments and videos under strict laws governing expression, while telecom companies block access to popular pornographic websites.
Russian Woman Sues McDonald’s After ‘Succumbing’ to Burger Ad During Lent
A Russian woman is suing McDonald’s over a burger ad that she said caused her to break her fast during a Christian period called Lent, media reported last week.
“When I saw the advertising banner — I could not help myself,” Ksenia Ovchinnikova said in a court statement, according to the state-run TASS news agency.
The devout Orthodox Christian alleges that the mouthwatering ad featuring the fast-food chain’s signature cheeseburger and chicken McNuggets compelled her to break her 30-day fast as well as a 16-year streak of staying away from animal products during the period leading up to Easter.
“I visited McDonald’s and bought a cheeseburger,” Ovchinnikova said of the April 2019 incident.
The Omsk native is seeking 1,000 rubles ($13.60) in moral damages for alleged consumer-protection violations and insulting her religious feelings.
The Russian Orthodox Church advised Ovchinnikova to “go to confession instead of the court,” a Moscow Patriarchate official told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency last Thursday.
Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky court has not yet set a date for the preliminary hearing over the unhappy meal.