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Playboy in Dubai jail for naked model photo now has Covid – but apologises for stunt – World News

A US playboy in custody over a notorious picture of naked women on a balcony in Dubai has apologised.

Vitaliy Grechin, 41, remains behind bars in the Muslim emirate where he has also tested positive for Covid-19.

He apologised for the ‘Butt Squad’ photo which saw a number of mainly Ukrainian women strip off on a balcony in Dubai.

The women have all been released from a “jail hell” and deported in disgrace with a five year ban on returning.

In his first interview from a Dubai coronavirus detention facility, Grechin said sorry for the “mistake” over the so-called ‘Butt Squad’ photo but denied any intention to cause offence.

Nor was the stunt to advertise sexual services or make pornography, he insisted.



The models, mostly from Ukraine, were banned from returning to Dubai for five years

In any other country such a picture would be “normal” and he considered it was “art”.

He revealed he has now faced bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds in Dubai for securing the release of a dozen women held after the picture, and his own – he hopes – imminent freedom.

Asked if apologised for offence in the Muslim city, he said: “Of course I do. And we all do. The girls have all apologised in interviews (since their release). For me, it is also very unpleasant.”

He told EAST2WEST: “When people make a mistake and apologise for it, it has to be taken as that. Clearly, there was no intent to offend anybody. Clearly, they were not climbing a mosque naked.”

The American playboy said it was “a spur of the moment decision” to take the picture against the background of Dubai’s skyscrapers and that the girls were “not instructed” by him to pose nude.

He added: “If you are an 18,19, 20 year old girl and you see a beautiful view…”



Grechin said he had paid for around 20 women, all friends, to travel to Dubai on an all-expenses paid fun trip to escape lockdown

“It happened within a minute. One girl said ‘I’m going to take a picture’, and then it was ‘Me too’, ‘Me too, ‘Me too’.”

Grechin said it was “a passionate decision to take a photo which wouldn’t show their private parts.”

He said: “It’s not porn. Everywhere else in the world it would be considered normal. In magazines it would be considered art…it was a unique shot.”

The property tycoon claimed he had paid for around 20 women, all friends, to travel to Dubai on an all-expenses paid fun trip to escape lockdown at a total cost of around $10,000.

He said: “I choose to surround myself with the people I feel comfortable with. Everybody I know personally.

“It’s the equivalent of going out to a club or for dinner. There was no escorting, selling, buying, none of that.”



Grechin playing piano, surrounded by naked girls in the same location where the naked photo in Dubai was taken

Hitting back at rumours about the women, he insisted: “They are not models, escorts or anything else” and that they were a “closed group of friends.”

While he had also flown in photographer Alexander Ten from Moscow, Grechin denied ordering the naked balcony picture or choreographing it.

“We were in my friend’s swimming pool and at the end of the day the girls had to change,” he said.

“There was nowhere else except his apartment. We went to change. The girls went to the apartment and they went on to the balcony to take a photo with a view.

“The neighbour took a video of it and it went viral. There seems a deduction that the girls are models and prostitutes but they are none of these things.“

Grechin was born in Soviet Ukraine and raised in the US where he became a donor to President Barack Obama, and he returned to live and work in Kyiv where he has a wife and son.



Grechin said the legal and jail systems in Dubai were “borderline barbaric”

On the naked shoot, he said: “I should never probably have allowed something like this. The girls had the mindset that they were on private property behind closed doors.

“Even if they went on the balcony for 15 seconds it was still something enclosed. There was no intent to create or distribute anything like this.

“It was spur of the moment. Of course, I regret it. I lost a month of my life.”

It was said the women spent “ten days in jail, with no food or decent water, no hygiene supplies, no sheets, and with a metal bunk to sleep on.”

Grechin added: “I feel responsible for this. And you can’t imagine the lawyer fees I have to pay. They run well into six figures. It makes me want to cry.”

Realising that police were getting involved, the photographer and several women rushed to the airport and flew out to Russia.



Vitaliy Grechin, 41, pictured in custody in Dubai

He said the Dubai authorities held those who remained on suspicion of involvement in prostitution and pornography. But these accusations had now been dropped against them all, he said.

“There was one case where everyone’s name was listed. But this did not go forward because there was no evidence.”

Grechin had been told by the authorities to “accept my sin” over the balcony picture, but said had not done so.

He said: “Did I take the picture? No. Was I in the picture? No. Was I on the balcony? No. Did I make them go outside? No. Did I post the video? No.”

He expected to be allowed home because there was no evidence of pornography or prostitution, he said.

Grechin had been moved from jail to a prison hospital for Covid-19 sufferers but was now in custody in a coronavirus holding facility since he showed no symptoms.

“They searched our phones, apartments, they took drug tests, we were clean,” he said.

“I have a paper saying that Dubai does not have anything against me since 15 April. I was supposed to go home on the 22nd. But then I caught Covid in jail.

“I have a paper from the prosecutor saying we have no evidence that you did anything wrong. But I am still in custody and cannot leave the room I am in.”

The photographer hopes to leave as soon as he has a negative Covid test.

He admitted there was another picture inside his Russian friend Alexei Kontsov’s apartment showing Grechin surrounded by 20 naked women as he played the piano.

But this image had been behind closed doors and not in the view of anyone else, he said.

Grechin accused Dubai of being a “hypocritical society” over sex.

He said: “Dubai has the highest number of sex workers probably in the Middle East. Every single person I know is high on drugs, and every sheik brings 50 or 60 girls a week from all over the world. I try and stay away from all this.”

With a love of travelling with friends, Grechin had had been on previous trips with a large group of women to Mexico, the Carpathian Mountains and elsewhere, he said.

This was how he chose to live and relax, even if it was unconventional and he knew all the women and some lived with him in Kyiv, he said.

They faced “no stipulations, conditions nor obligations” in accepting his largesse, he insisted before outlining his view that women in eastern Europe were “more liberal” and “feminine” than in America.

“Girls are much more open, and liberal, and expressive – there are no ‘Me Too” movements,” he claimed.

As well as Obama, Grechin has been pictured with Hillary Clinton, George Clooney, and Sylvester Stallone.

Among the group with him in Dubai was Vogue model Evgenia Taran, 21, who said: “I made a lot of conclusions, realised my mistakes, and to some extent (I am) grateful for what happened.”

Another, trained lawyer Yana Graboshchuk, 27, complained they had been treated like “animals” in jail. Grechin said the legal and jail systems in Dubai were “borderline barbaric”.

His friend Kontsov, 33, returned to Russia last week as did participant Anastasia Fursova, 25.

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