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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Instagram influencer probed for burning Russian passport

A woman has ended up in hot water after a video of her New Year's antics went viral

A Russian Instagram blogger is under criminal investigation after burning her passport amid the New Year celebrations in the southwestern city of Bryansk, Russia’s Investigative Committee announced on Tuesday.

The incident occurred early on January 1, when the blogger, identified by Russian media as 22-year-old Yevgeniya Hoffman, decided to torch her passport.

Read more: Russia detained thousands of migrants across the country on NYE

The intoxicated young woman performed her stunt outside a nightclub, where she had been celebrating the New Year. Multiple videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

Hoffman’s actions were witnessed by a small group of onlookers, some of whom called the blogger a “dumb b*tch,” footage circulating online suggests. Others, however, soon followed suit, setting their own ruble banknotes alight.

The passport-burning performance appears to have given a considerable boost to Hoffman’s presence on Instagram, which is banned in Russia for ‘extremism.’ Her number of followers exploded by over a third amid the scandal, reaching over 3,000.

Read more: Putin names Russia’s real enemies

Still, the stunt was sharply criticized on Russian social media, with multiple patriotic bloggers attacking Hoffman, claiming the passport-burning performance was actually a political message to profess her support for Ukraine.

Some also alleged the influencer has been actually working as an escort, merely advertising her services on Instagram, yet no solid evidence to back up such allegations has been ever provided.

Hoffman herself has denied all the accusations, insisting she had burned the passport over the “ugly photo” in it, as well as urged her critics to go and enlist to show their purported patriotism instead of hounding her online. She also claimed the document was actually obsolete, despite the video of the incident clearly showing it was issued only back in 2021.

The affair promptly caught the eye of Russian law enforcement, with the country’s Investigative Committee detaining the blogger for questioning. Hoffman is now also suspected of defacing the Russian national coat-of-arms, the Committee said in a statement.

“These actions are a gross insult and mockery of the civil and patriotic feelings of citizens of Russia,” the agency said.

If the blogger is found guilty of the offense, she risks being sentenced to months of community service or even up to a year in jail.