​‘Banks have left us butt-naked’: Siberian model stages naked protest at -40°C

Photo: Aleksandra Timofeeva fromvk.com/golayapravda_irk)
A model from the eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk has been photographed outside a bank and a petrol station wearing absolutely nothing, in protest against credit policies and high petrol prices in Russia’s crisis-stricken economy.

“If you fall ill or lose your job, the banks won’t care. They will take it all. We forgive other countries a lot of debt, but we leave our citizens butt-naked. That’s all we want to say with this photo,” says a post on Liana Klevtsova’s page in Russia’s VKontakte social network.

“We are not talking about buying smartphones, designer clothes or fast cars. We are talking about essentials such as a place to live. And the only chance is to take out a mortgage at 14 percent a year – with no special conditions.”

Liana Klevtsova (Photo: Aleksandra Timofeeva from http://vk.com/golayapravda_irk)

The provocative pic was made next to a large office belonging to Sberbank, Russia’s biggest majority state-owned bank. This week Sberbank announced an 84 percent drop in profits over the past year, after suffering a financial strength downgrade by international ratings agency Moody’s last month.

After the photo was widely shared on the Russian-speaking internet, the 19-year-old Klevtsova, who moonlights as a glamor model, and her photographer Aleksandra Timofeeva, decided to continue the campaign. In a second photo, Liana is pictured holding a petrol pump in protest against high fuel prices, while also wearing nothing.

“The idea to stage a naked protest was spontaneous, and we thought of it more as a joke. But then I received a lot of responses and messages of support, and now plan a series of these photo shoots, though their content will remain a secret for the moment,” Klevtsova told LifeNews website.

But one person is not getting on-board with the campaign.

“When my mother found out, she said that I shamed my family with this, and that the campaign was stupid and in bad taste. At first she cried, but now she has accepted what I am doing.”

Attracting attention to social issues with naked protests has occurred for at least a century, and is currently most visibly practiced by the Ukrainian-founded FEMEN movement, which combines it with situationist art performances to sabotage public events.