Russian ‘begpackers’ arrested in Malaysia over baby-swinging street performance
Two Russians have been arrested after a video that showed a man swinging a baby in the air went viral on Malaysian social media, according to local reports.
- The video showing the street act has attracted 30,000 views
- Social media users largely condemned the baby-swinging performance
- A Russian couple in their late 20s was arrested on Monday
In the video, the man holds the baby by its legs, swinging the infant underneath his own legs then holding him aloft in the air.
He throws the child above his head, claps, and catches the child again as a group of people sit on the ground swaying to music.
A large crowd of onlookers surrounds them. At least one person can be heard in Malay questioning how old the child is, while another calls the performance “ridiculous”.
Zayl Chia Abdulla, who uploaded the video online, said he filmed it at Bukit Bintang, a popular tourist area in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
“Why is the authority allowing such [an] act to be showcase to [the] public. These street performer needs to be arrested! Please do something,” he wrote in a Facebook post, calling it an, “irresponsible act that can literally cause injury to that poor baby”.
At the time of writing, the video had attracted about 30,000 views.
It carried a content warning from Facebook, as well as the explanation that it hadn’t been removed from the site, “because it may help rescue the child in question”.
Mr Zayl wrote that people in the crowd had been calling for the man to stop, “but he just pretended like nothing happened”.
“And police? They’re everywhere. But no-one bothered hence I share this,” he wrote.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim later told a press conference the pair was arrested on Monday during a subsequent performance.
“The Russian couple, aged 28 and 27 years old, were arrested during their street performance along Jalan Raja Abdullah today,” the Star Online reported him as saying.
Most online commenters condemned the practice, saying using a child in this way to make money was unacceptable.
Some branded them “begpackers” — a term increasingly used to describe backpackers who ask locals for cash to fund their travels. It has gained particular traction in South-East Asia.
However at least one person responded to defend the couple, saying parents in Russia regularly “train our children” in this kind of “gymnastics” to make them “strong”.
It was not clear if police had charged the couple with any offence.