One of Russia's largest online travel search engines removed a 5-star resort in the Seychelles from its hotel listings after a Russian guest accused a member of the resort’s staff of rape.
Anna Karabash, a 40-year-old travel writer and public-relations executive from Moscow, said she was attacked and raped at knifepoint in her villa by a cleaner employed at the Six Senses Zil Pasyon resort during a business trip in 2017. Following the complaint from Karabash, she alleged that management at the resort refused to take her allegations seriously and “smeared me as a lying golddigger.”
“The hotel was deleted... when we started our collaboration with Anna [Karabash],” Aviasales’ communication representative, Janis Dzenis, told The Moscow Times.
“We decided to exclude Six Senses Zil Pasyon offers [from Aviasales] to protect our customers and express ... solidarity with female solo travellers,” said Dzenis who noted the relationship was ended on Aug. 27.
Karabash, who announced Aviasales decision on her Facebook page on Monday, said the company made the decision to drop the hotel on its own initiative.
“I didn’t push them to do it at all,” she told The Moscow Times. “I think I would have done the same if I was working there. We are talking about basic human values.”
Other Russians in the travel industry said they would avoid working with Six Senses Zil Pasyon in the future.
Russian travel journalist Gennady Jozefavichus told The Moscow Times: “Not long ago, Six Senses in the Seychelles contacted me to see if I wanted to visit the hotel. I told them I won’t be coming there until the situation around Karabash gets resolved. Anna [Karabash] is a colleague of mine, [and] I trust her.”
Elena Filiphenkova, head of the boutique travel agency Aspire’s Moscow office, told The Moscow Times that her company would blacklist the resort. “We stopped advising our clients to book stays at Six Senses.”
For Karabash, the decision by Aviasales is only the start of her campaign against the Six Senses resort. “I want to draw as much media attention as possible to what happened. Those responsible need to be punished.”
Currently, Karabash is involved in two court cases in the Seychelles — a $500,000 civil suit against the resort and a criminal case against the alleged attacker.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon is owned as a franchise by Mukesh Valabhji, one of the Seychelle’s wealthiest businessmen, and is part of the international Six Senses hotel brand.
In a statement to The Moscow Times, a representative of Six Senses Zil Pasyon said that they had done their best to support Karabash, and that the viewed the rape allegation to be an issue between two individuals in a court of law.
"We regret to hear that Aviasales has decided to remove our property from their database. The company has made all the efforts to support Anna Karabash and fully cooperated with the police."
Karabash told The Daily Beast that the hotel’s owners hired a lawyer to defend the alleged attacker who dismissed her allegations in a public hearing and accused her of profiting from the rape allegations. The news website also reported that the defense lawyer for the alleged attacker, a 38-year-old Mauritian, said his client claims he and Karabash engaged in consensual sex.
Karabash herself hopes that going public will help move the case forward.
“At first I wanted to stay anonymous. But with the whole ‘Me Too’ wave, I realized that by going public, I will add credibility to my case,” she said. “I have been accused of everything, from being a KGB agent to a prostitute. I just want to find justice by this point. I am not going to give up without a fight”.