Russian organisers of ‘white party’ in Sri Lanka apologise after sparking outrage

A Russian man helps a woman with a snorkel mask in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.
A Russian man helps a woman with a snorkel mask in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. Copyright AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
Copyright AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena
By Euronews
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Hosts of the event said they didn't mean to be racist, but just wanted to meet other long-term expats.


A group of Russian expats who organised a “white party” in Sri Lanka apologised for the event after sparking a huge backlash online.

The party, whose description contained a line saying “Face Control: White”, was supposed to be held on Saturday at the Sarayka Lounge, a Russian-run nightclub in the resort town of Unawatuna.

But the event was cancelled after its poster started circulating online, sparking outrage among those who interpreted the party’s dress code as meaning that non-white people would not be allowed in.

The organisers apologised on Instagram for what they called a misunderstanding.

“We wanted to meet expats who have been living here for a long time and love Sri Lanka,” a man using the handle handle geo_ecstatic and claiming to be the event organiser.

He insisted that there had been “no malice or racism” involved, adding that he had had to leave the country after receiving threats and abuse online.

“I didn’t expect this to be such a sensitive moment for a huge number of people. I admit that it was a bad idea... and I understand that we created it ourselves out of our stupidity. I deeply apologise to everyone whose feelings were hurt,” he wrote.

Sarayka Lounge, the nightclub where the event was to take place, also apologised on Instagram, writing that they “urgently” cancelled the party and “severed ties” with the organisers. The bar's owners said that they had not conducted “a thorough search” on the event.

“We have never supported and will never support various racist statements or organisations,” they insisted.

The Russian Embassy in Colombo said in a statement that they “condemn all forms of racial discrimination.”

In a move unrelated to the “white party” controversy, Sri Lanka said on Sunday that it had ended long-term tourist visa extensions for both Russians and Ukrainians. The decision was made without prior approval from the Cabinet.

According to Sri Lanka’s tourist department, more than 288,000 Russians and nearly 20,000 Ukrainians visited the country since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022. It is unclear how many have stayed in the country beyond the 30-day duration of a normal tourist visa.

According to Sri Lanka’s immigration department, their visas had previously been extended due to the fact that various airlines were not operating in the region.

The government said that now that the passenger aviation situation has been normalised, Russians and Ukrainians without the appropriate visas must leave the country by March 7.

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