How high would you climb for clout?
118 storeys it seems, for one Russian woman, who shared snippets of her journey up the Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur — the second tallest structure in the world.
In a series of tweets posted last Wednesday (Jan 4), Angela Nikolau wrote that she had rented an apartment close to Merdeka 118 so that she could "conduct surveillance" of the building.
Dressed in a hijab, glasses and a builder's uniform to "look as unnoticeable as possible", Nikolau embarked on her mission on Dec 28, claiming that she spent "several weeks finding out important details" which would allow her to enter the building.
That tower is currently closed for construction.
Despite the preparation, her ascent up the skyscraper wasn't without trouble. "I ran the first 32 floors and got overheated. I had to lie down on the concrete floor naked to cool down... I drank all the water I had," she tweeted.
Hiding from workers
To avoid detection, Nikolau said she had to hide from the workers.
The Russian free climber shared a picture of herself inside the building after 25 hours with "no food, no water and no sleep".
"I couldn't even cry because the workers were right next to me and they [would] hear my sobs and hand me over to security."
When the workers left for their break three hours later, Nikolau came out of hiding and ran to the spire of the building, which was 53 storeys high.
"After I finished climbing, I did not feel my arms and could not lift them," she recounted.
Nikolau posted several photos and videos of herself sitting and posing atop the building on her Instagram.
One of the photos was also sold as an NFT, she said.
Unfortunately for Nikolau and her partner, Ivan Beerkus, who joined her on the ascend, the authorities soon caught wind of their act and launched an investigation.
According to The Star, authorities have analysed the tower's CCTV footage, and there were no glimpses of the couple trespassing the building.
"We have also called nine individuals including staff and workers at the tower after the viral incident," said a local source.
In addition, the couple are also being investigated for the possibility of entering Malaysia illegally.
Responding to Malaysians who criticised her for disrespecting their country, Nikolau tweeted an apology on Jan 5, saying it was never her intent to offend Malaysians.
Trespassers will be dealt with
On Dec 29 last year, a spokesperson of PNB Merdeka Ventures, which owns Merdeka 118, said that legal action will be taken against any person found trespassing the site.
“We wish to highlight that the Merdeka 118 development is still very much a live construction site and safety remains our priority.
“As it is private property, any trespassers will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
“We are providing our full support and cooperation to the authorities on this matter,” said the spokesman.
Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief, Datuk Yahaya Othman, told the New Straits Times then that Nikolau and Beerkus would be called in to have their statements recorded, and would be investigated under Malaysia's Penal Code for trespassing.
YouTubers charged for trespassing into Merdeka 118
On Dec 30, a group of content creators known as Drfitershoots uploaded a video of themselves climbing the same building.
Their video showed them entering the premises dressed as construction workers, and cutting off a net that was blocking their access.
"A number of attempts had already ended in prison time for certain individuals so we knew we were up against heavy odds," they wrote in the video description.
Responding to the clip, PNB Merdeka Venture said in a statement that the incident took place on May 1 2022, and all involved parties were detained and charged under Section 457 of the Penal Code.