Miss Crimea punished for singing popular Ukrainian song on Instagram
- Beauty queen Olga Valeyeva, from the Russia-annexed region, was fined US$684, while her friend who joined her was sentenced to 10 days in jail
- Crimea’s interior ministry called the song the ‘fighting anthem of an extremist organisation’
Two women in Moscow-annexed Crimea, including Miss Crimea, were found guilty of discrediting the Russian army by singing a Ukrainian patriotic song in a video posted on social media, local authorities have said.
Olga Valeyeva – who won the Miss Crimea 2022 beauty pageant – and an unnamed friend sang the popular Ukrainian “Chervona Kalyna” song on a balcony.
A video of the women singing was posted on Instagram stories, which auto-deletes after 24 hours.
Crimean police said Valeyeva was fined 40,000 roubles (US$684), while her friend was given a 10-day prison sentence.
“A video was published on the internet in which two girls performed a song that is the fighting anthem of an extremist organisation,” Crimea’s interior ministry said on Telegram on Monday.
It said a court found the women – born in 1987 and 1989 – guilty of discrediting the Russian army and publicly demonstrating Nazi symbols.
Russia, whose troops are fighting in Ukraine, often alleges that Kyiv’s national symbols are extremist and Nazi-like.
Crimean police also posted a video of the women apologising for singing the song, blurring their faces.
“I did not know and did not realise that it had a nationalist character and definitely did not want to spread propaganda by singing it,” one of the women said.
Earlier Valeyeva posted on Instagram that she did not wish to “harm anyone”.
“We just sang a Ukrainian song. We thought it was just a little song that we knew for a long time,” she said.
Last month, the Moscow-installed head of the peninsula Sergei Aksyonov warned Crimeans that authorities would react “harshly” to such songs after “Chervona Kalyna” was played at a wedding.
“Singing such nationalist anthems – especially during the special military operation – will be punished,” Aksyonov said in a video on Telegram in September, using Moscow’s terminology to describe its military intervention in Ukraine.
“People who do this are acting like traitors,” he added.
Aksyonov said there was a special FSB security service group working on the matter.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.