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Jakarta Post

Russian accosted by locals in Batam for wearing hammer-and-sickle shirt

  • Fadli and Jon Afrizal

    The Jakarta Post

Batam   /   Sun, January 1, 2017   /  02:21 pm
Russian accosted by locals in Batam for wearing hammer-and-sickle shirt Members of hardline group Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI) burn a fabric with a communist symbol in front of East Java Governor Office in Surabaya, East Java on June 1. They rejected any efforts on reconciliation, rehabilitation and compensation toward members of the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and also warned public on the danger of communism. (Antara/Didik Suhartono)

A Russian national was accosted by a group of locals while on holiday in Batam, Riau Islands, on Saturday, for wearing a t-shirt displaying communist symbols.

Igor Riabchuk was approached by members of an organization calling themselves Children of the Red Beret Command (AKBM) while he was walking in Batam’s Nagoya. The group said the 49-year-old man had violated the law for wearing a t-shirt bearing the hammer-and-sickle logo, the symbol of communism.

Riabchuk, who cannot speak English or Indonesian, could not understand them and could not resist when they took him to the police station.  

Riau Islands Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Saptono Erlangga told The Jakarta Post that the police decided to hold him for a while for his own safety. 

“He can only speak Russian so he didn’t understand why these people approached him,” said Saptono.

Saptono said the police later confiscated the t-shirt and returned the man to his hotel.

Igor said he purchased the t-shirt in Vietnam.

“He’s only a tourist. No political motive,” said Saptono.

Indonesian law still bans communism and often jails people for discussing the ideology or wearing paraphernalia related to communism.

(Read also: Thousands rally in protest of alleged revival of PKI)

Earlier, the local military command detained a Singaporean, Azri Zulfarhan bin Kamsin, for wearing a similar t-shirt. He was also released and had the t-shirt confiscated.

In Jambi, the police detained Rudiyanto, a resident of Alambarajo, Jambi, for wearing a hammer-and-sickle t-shirt on New Year's Eve. 

The motorcycle taxi driver was stopped while crossing the street wearing the red t-shirt. 

Rudianto said he bought the shirt two weeks ago at a local flea market.

"I was on my way to see the New Year's celebration, but ended up here at the police station," he said on Sunday. (wit)

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