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21 Jan, 2022 14:48

Russian influencer offers bizarre excuse for lingerie shoot outside iconic Moscow mosque

The snowy conditions must have made the photo session quite a nippy experience

A Russian influencer has apologized for staging an erotic exhibition outside Moscow’s best-known Islamic place of worship, the latest in a spate of scandals featuring internet stars posing provocatively outside religious buildings in the country.

The clip, which saw an unknown woman wearing just a coat, stockings, lingerie, and a balaclava in thick snow near the holy building, circulated among media outlets on Thursday.

In the viral video, the scantily clad figure could be seen striking a series of poses in front of a photographer, understood to be influencer Maria Katanova, outside the Moscow Cathedral Mosque, located in the center of the Russian capital. 

While the raunchy display was widely watched online, it has resulted in a criminal investigation being launched under laws barring offending religious believers. If found guilty of the crime, the woman could face a maximum penalty of one year in prison.

The woman who appeared half-naked near the place of worship faces a fine of nearly $4,000 dollars or 12 months behind bars, a law-enforcement source told TASS on Friday.

In the wake of the scandal Katanova offered her sincerest apologies to those who she insulted with the sexually-charged images outside the mosque.

The social media personality said that as she was passing by the building, she saw a similar photo session of a girl sporting an open fur coat displaying her half-naked body. She says that she told the woman that such a move was unacceptable and her attempt at fame would most likely get her punished.

Katanova, who fashions herself as “the mother of social media marketing,” said she has created a ‘how not to’ guide for people looking to get clout online, featuring several high-profile cases on the internet. According to her, she was recreating the stunt in an effort to advise people not to follow suit.

The Spiritual Administration of Muslims also spoke out against the incident. The head of its press service, Gulnur Gaziyeva, told local media that calling for the model to apologize was useless, as she urged Muslims not to condemn her.

“This is compensation for one's own inadequacy. It's exhibitionism … a need to expose yourself,” she said, adding that she thinks it is evidence of a psychological problem. “But what's to demand an apology from a sick person?”

"This pursuit of attention, the display of the self by any means necessary - well, its insanity,” Gaziyeva remarked, calling on fellow followers of Islam not to scorn her, but to let the perpetrators have a taste of the attention that they were craving. 

The latest scandal is part of a chain of similar incidents in recent months. Just last week, Moscow police opened a probe into Instagram model Polina Morugina, who has starred in adult films, after she posted sultry pictures of herself posing naked in front of a church in the Russian capital.

In November, Daria Pepelyayeva, a young Russian Only Fans model received backlash from enraged locals online after posting a racy TikTok video outside a mosque in Kazan, the capital of Russia’s predominantly Muslim Tatarstan region.

Just one month prior, a blogger and a model each received a 10-month jail sentence for simulating oral sex in a photo in front of Moscow’s historic St. Basil’s Cathedral. They were convicted of insulting religious beliefs.