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Red Bikini Girl (1979)

lilliangasinskaya2On 16 January 1979 a young Ukrainian woman jumped from the Russian cruise ship Leonid Sobinov in Sydney Harbour wearing only a red bikini.

18-year old Lillian Gasinskaya, from Odessa, swam to shore and was found on a Pyrmont footpath on Sunday night by a photographer. She then went into hiding with friends in Sydney.

Ms Gasinskaya told reporters she had decided four months earlier to seek asylum in Australia. “I hate Russia and I saw the ship as my only chance to leave the country”, she said. “I know my parents in Voroshilovgrad will be terribly unhappy, but I cannot help that”.

A debate ensued over whether then Immigration Minister Michael MacKellar should grant Ms Gasinskaya asylum or deport her as was the customary fate for other ship deserters.

She was eventually allowed to stay and later earned $15,000 as the first nude centerfold in Australia’s edition of Penthouse magazine.

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