Ukrainian Protester Pulled Off Cannes Red Carpet After Covering Herself in Fake Blood

A Ukrainian influencer was pulled off the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, after she covered herself in fake blood on the steps up to the Palais, staging a protest in support of Ukraine.

This year, the city of Cannes banned protests along the Croisette and its surroundings during the festival.

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Ilona Chernobai — a Ukrainian fitness trainer with one million followers on Instagram — walked the red carpet at Cannes in a blue and yellow dress, symbolizing the Ukraine flag. As she got to the stairs, she pulled bags of fake blood from underneath her dress and poured them over herself. Security immediately grabbed her and escorted her off the carpet.

On her Instagram, Chernobai posted about her act of protest, writing, “The action was in support of the occupied territories and our people who live there.”

“On the red carpet of the 76th Cannes Film Festival, I came out in a dress in the colors of our flag and poured red paint on myself,” Chernobai wrote (in a post that has been translated to English by Variety). “I used my chance and with this act I reminded what is happening in Ukraine!!!”

She continued, “Unfortunately, I can no longer post all the events in stories, like many bloggers, because Instagram destroys everything! But my page is under threat of deletion! I am very glad that my act spread all over the world media! People should not forget about us!”

“I am with Ukraine in my heart,” she said. “I did what I had to do!”

Chernobai said in her post that she is now “banned from the festival” and many other events, “but it’s worth it.”

TOPSHOT - A protester, wearing a dress in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, is detained by security after she covered herself in fake blood on the stairs on the Festival Palace ahead of the screening of the film "Acide" during the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 21, 2023. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Cannes banned Russian delegates from the festival in 2022, writing in a statement, “We will not welcome official Russian delegations nor accept the presence of anyone linked to the Russian government.”

As the 2023 edition continues, the Ukrainian League of Cinemas called on participants of the festival to halt all business with Russia rather than support “terrorism,” causing industry professionals to weigh the moral cost of working in the country against the financial upside of releasing films in the lucrative Russian market.

Variety has reached out to the festival for comment.

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